The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) is a unique text – bringing governments around the world (known as State Parties) together in mutual commitment to the protection of cultural property.

Together with the First and Second Protocols (1954 and 1999) which supplement the Convention, it codifies the protection of cultural property in international humanitarian law, making clear that it is illegal to target such property in conflict, and urging proactive efforts to prevent its destruction.

UNESCO is responsible for the monitoring of the 1954 Hague Convention, and does so through the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

The 15th Meeting of the Committee

On 10 and 11 December, the 1999 Second Protocol Committee met in an ordinary session to discuss plans for the coming year and the mobilisation of resources for the implementation of the Convention. IFLA observed this meeting to stay informed on the highest level of international cultural property protection and align our future work in this area with UNESCO’s priorities.

One notable outcome of this meeting was the committee’s declaration concerning the protection of cultural property in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This declaration calls for the prevention of further damage to cultural heritage, encourages measures be put in place to prevent looting, and expresses readiness to set up an independent technical mission.

This complements an earlier statement signed by IFLA appealing for the protection of cultural property in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Why does this matter to libraries?

As memory institutions, libraries are among the stakeholders protecting and providing access to cultural heritage in all its forms. From rare books and special collections to expressions of intangible cultural heritage, access to literature, the arts, and more – libraries are a key connector between communities and their right to participate in cultural life.

For this reason, libraries, and the collections they hold, are included in the 1954 Hague Convention provisions for the protection of cultural property.

Through our role as an NGO partner to UNESCO, and as a founding member of the Blue Shield, IFLA works to ensure that libraries are adequately included in efforts to implement the 1954 Convention.

IFLA and Cultural Heritage Protection

In 2021, IFLA looks forward to continuing to grow our involvement in the safeguarding cultural heritage – together with our members and with partners such as UNESCO and Blue Shield.

For an overview of our activities, visit our dedicated webpage: Safeguarding Cultural Heritage

What can you do?

Learn more about the 1954 Hague Convention here: Frequently asked questions on Armed Conflict and Heritage.

Is your country a State Party to the Hague Convention? If you find your country’s name on this list, then your government has made a commitment to the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.

Learn more about the IFLA Risk Register and our other activities on cultural property protection.

Let us know can IFLA help you and your library get more involved with safeguarding cultural heritage. Email: [email protected] and share your thoughts – this can help inform our future work!