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UN Convention for Protection of Cultural Property in Event of Armed Conflict

Question for Department for Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL1360, tabled on 21 July 2014

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 12 May (HL Deb, col 1650), when they expect there to be parliamentary time to introduce legislation to ratify the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict; and what assessment they have made of the damage to cultural property in the recent and continuing armed conflict in Syria and northern Iraq.

Answered on

11 August 2014

The legislative priorities for this session were set out in the Queen’s speech in June. The Government remains committed to protecting cultural heritage and we will seek to legislate on the 1954 Hague Convention and the subsequent protocols when parliamentary time allows. The 1954 convention already informs the Armed Forces’ law of armed conflict doctrine and training policy, particularly with regard to respect for cultural property, precautions in attack and recognition of the protective emblem.

The Government is deeply concerned by reports of damage to cultural property in Syria and Northern Iraq, including recent attacks by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant against Mosques, Churches and other holy places. The reported destruction of the Tomb of Yonus (Jonah) in Mosul on 24 July by ISIL is further evidence of the groups barbarism and disregard for International Humanitarian Law. We are also concerned that Syria’s cultural heritage is being plundered for private profit. That is why in December 2013 the UK and other EU nations amended the EU’s sanctions regime to make clear that involvement in trade relating to artefacts illegally removed from Syria is prohibited. This will help safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage for the future and we will continue to do all we can to bring an end to the conflict and restore stability in the region.