The United Kingdom has formally ratified the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and acceded to its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999.
Our instruments of ratification and accession were formally deposited with UNESCO this morning. Subject to confirmation by UNESCO, the Convention and Protocols will come into force for the United Kingdom on 12th December 2017.
The Convention and Protocols are intended to protect cultural property from damage, destruction, looting and unlawful removal during armed conflict. The Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act 2017 makes the necessary provision in our domestic law to ensure that we can meet our obligations under the Convention and Protocols.
We intend to bring the provisions of the Act into force on the same date that the Convention and Protocols come into force.
Before the Convention, Protocols and Act come into force, we plan to announce and publish a number of implementation measures.
We will announce and publish a list of categories of cultural property in the United Kingdom which we believe meets the definition of cultural property set out in Article 1 of the Convention and is therefore protected by the Convention and Protocols. This will be a UK-wide list, agreed with the devolved administrations. It will not be a definitive or exhaustive list, but it will act as a guide to the cultural property in the United Kingdom which we consider to be protected by the Convention and Protocols.
We will also make an announcement about safeguarding measures for cultural property in England which is protected by the Convention and Protocols. The devolved administrations are responsible for safeguarding cultural property in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Convention and Act regulate the use of the cultural emblem (also known as the “blue shield”) that signifies cultural property protected by the Convention and Protocols and certain personnel engaged in the protection of cultural property. In accordance with the Act, we will publish some permissions to use the cultural emblem in England, which will come into effect on the day on which the Convention, Protocols and Act come into force. There will be a general permission for education and training purposes and permissions for specific organisations which need to make use of the emblem.
We will make an announcement about our approach to granting permissions to display the cultural emblem in connection with immovable cultural property in England which is protected by the Convention and Protocols.
Under the Act, the devolved administrations are responsible for granting permissions to use and display the cultural emblem in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We will also publish guidance on the new offence of dealing in unlawfully exported cultural property, which is created by section 17 of the Act, to help people comply with the Act.