United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Office of the Spokesperson, Publication Date: 16-03-2009
On 13 March 2009 the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, expressed his great pleasure on receiving the instrument of ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict from Mr Stephen Engelken, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the United States of America to UNESCO. This ratification brings the number of States Parties to 123. In accepting the instrument of ratification, the Director-General expressed his thanks to the United States for ratifying the Hague Convention and reiterated the importance of the United States’ participation in several other UNESCO Conventions for the protection of cultural heritage, including the First and Second Protocols to the Hague Convention.
The Director-General recalled that the Hague Convention is the first multilateral treaty with a universal vocation devoted exclusively to the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict. It covers both movable and immovable cultural property, including architectural, artistic or historical monuments, archaeological sites, works of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest, as well as scientific collections of all types.
The Hague Convention contains a number of provisions concerning the safeguarding of and respect for cultural property, as well as those on dissemination within the general public and target groups. It also deals with sanctions. There are two Protocols to this Convention – 1954 and 1999. The 1954 Protocol focuses on the protection of movable cultural property in occupied territories, while the 1999 Protocol reinforces the Hague Convention in several aspects, such as penal and institutional measures.
For his part, Mr Engelken underscored the importance of the 1954 Hague Convention for the United States. He pointed out that, through this ratification, his country had decided to formalize its practice of protecting cultural heritage during armed conflicts and emphasized that the United States military personnel had already been trained in the Convention, added that the Convention would enter into force in the United States immediately.