Protecting Cultural Property During Military Operations: Implications for Strategy Tactics and Preservation, Local and Global
Event date: 08 November 2011
Event end date: 09 November 2011
Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Shrivenham.
In any form of conflict, what to the soldier is terrain - something to be exploited, occupied, protected or denied to an enemy - is home to the local (and usually the host) population and landscape to the archaeologist. That landscape will include the material culture of the host people and their predecessors and ancestors - the people who first shaped the land before it ever became the operational theatre. Whether in a museum or woven into the fabric of the land, the artefacts, sacred places, archaeological sites, and historic monuments - all of which are defined as Cultural Property - are an intrinsic part of the culture of any nation. The fundamental importance of cultural property embraces national and regional pride, identity, spiritual significance and economics. It may, for example, be contested and a source of inter-ethnic tension, or it may be a commonly agreed culture, said to define a nation, but in all cases it is a significant element in the political systems of that nation. Without understanding of the ancient human past as present in the landscape, the Military Commander is operating without understanding of manifestations of the bonds and fault lines within the operational theatre. In recent years, ancient sites including the Baghdad Museum, Angkor Wat, the Bamyan Buddhas, the Mostar Bridge, the Walls of Derry, Stonehenge, Dubrovnik, Tripolitania and the Malagasy Palace of the Queens have all been military and/or cultural flashpoints; in some cases driving local opinion against the occupying or intervening power. Cultural Property is also the subject of International Law, the Military Commander who fails to take account of its existence could face charges at The Hague.
Military Commanders and Political Planners need to know about Cultural Property.
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