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16 Protection of Cultural Property

Dieter Fleck

From: The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law (4th Edition)

Edited By: Dieter Fleck

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 September 2023

International environmental law — Armed conflict — Warfare, air

This chapter provides a commentary on the protection of cultural property in armed conflicts, which covers recent developments in treaty law and international practice. The Second World War spurred the eventual conclusion of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the Regulations for its execution, along with a separate optional Protocol, now known as the First Protocol. The preamble to the former declares that ‘damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world’. While the 1954 Convention applies during international armed conflict (whether or not a legal state of war exists between the belligerents, as well as to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a party), its provisions relating to respect for cultural property also apply to non-international armed conflict occurring within the territory of one of the parties. Meanwhile, the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, too, embody brief provisions specifically relating to respect for cultural property. In parallel with these treaty regimes, a body of customary international law has developed over the years to protect cultural property in armed conflict.

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