Peter Stone, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace, Newcastle University and Chair of the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield, welcomes the new Cultural Property Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech. The bill calls for “the UK to ratify the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict, dealing in cultural property illegally exported from occupied territory to be made criminal offence, and property protected under the convention and its protocols to be identified by new Blue Shield”. Professor Stone will work with the UK Armed Forces to ensure and enforce the protection of cultural property both at home and overseas. He is also collaborating with various national and international military organizations and UNESCO World Heritage sites worldwide to further promote the protection of cultural property in war zones.
By working on a global scale, UK is establishing itself as an international leader through its examples of cultural security. The goal is to guarantee the protection of historical sites through different stages of conflict: “immediately pre-deployment, during conflict, during post-conflict stabilization, and in the long term”. Usually during times of war, destruction of cultural properties is accepted as collateral damage. However, it is also internationally understood that this destruction disrupts the cultural identity and economic potential of the affected community. Destroying an enemy’s cultural property gives incentive for retaliation and prolongation of conflict. Hence, the new Cultural Property Bill seeks to prevent depriving the world of its past.