We highlighted this issue earlier in the year here and here. On the Letters’ page of today’s Telegraph the issue is raised yet again. The time to ratify the convention is now long overdue and should be done without further delay. The letter, and the signatories to it, are as follows –
SIR – In 1954, the international community agreed the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, following the devastating impact of the Second World War on some of Europe’s most valued heritage, including paintings by Van Gogh and Caravaggio; the St Petersburg amber room; and architecture such as St Mary’s Church, Lübeck, and the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino.
After the looting in 2003 of museums and archaeological sites in Iraq, Britain announced its intention to ratify the convention. A decade later, we have yet to honour this commitment.
Britain is the most significant worldwide military power not to have ratified the convention, the United States having done so in 2009.
In 2008 a draft Cultural Property Protection (Armed Conflict) Bill passed through parliamentary scrutiny with only minor revisions suggested. Ministers of successive governments have pledged their commitment to ratification as soon as parliamentary time can be found.
This commitment is to be applauded, but continuing failure to ratify is mystifying. It has all-party support. Protecting cultural property in conflict is seen by the Armed Forces as a “force multiplier” – something that makes their job easier.
The latest Queen’s Speech left ample parliamentary time free to pass additional legislation in the current session. So the Government should delay no further in introducing the necessary legislation to ratify this important treaty.
Earl of Clancarty
London SW1
Professor Peter Stone
Secretary General of the Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield; Head of the School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University
Sir Laurie Magnus
Chairman English Heritage
Sir Simon Jenkins
Chairman National Trust
Lucy Worsley
Chief curator Historic Royal Palaces
Michael Palin
David Anderson
President, Museums Association; Director General, National Museums Wales
Dan Snow
President, Council for British Archaeology
Amanda Foreman
Dame Rosemary Cramp
Professor Emeritus, Durham University
Sir Adam Roberts
Senior Research Fellow in International Relations, Oxford University
Dame Fiona Reynolds
Master, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn
Chairman, all-party parliamentary archaeology group
Lady Antonia Fraser
Sir Barry Cunliffe
Loyd Grossman
Chairman, Heritage Alliance
Sir Tony Robinson
David Starkey
Bettany Hughes
Baroness Andrews
Lord Stern of Brentford
President, British Academy
Lord Cormack
Peter Hinton
Chief Executive, Institute for Archaeologists
Dame Margaret Drabble
Sue Cole
International Council on Monuments and Sites UK
Lord Howarth
Gillian Slovo
Baroness Bonham-Carter
Professor Stephen Shennan
Director of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London
Lord Maclennan of Rogart
Dr Neil Curtis
Convenor of University Museums in Scotland
Nick Poole
Chief Executive Officer Collections Trust
Baroness Young of Hornsey
Professor Mike Robinson
Director, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage
Dr Eleanor Robson
Chairman, British Institute for the Study of Iraq
Sir Bob Russell MP
Dr Mike Heyworth
Director, Council for British Archaeology
Kamila Shamsie
Lord Roper
Professor Andrew Wilson
Head of the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford
Glenda Jackson MP
Iain Watson
Director Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
Susan Ronald
Peter Trowles
Mackintosh Curator, Archives and Collections Centre, Glasgow School of Art
Lord Collins of Highbury
David Mander
Chairman, Archives and Records Association
Professor Nicholas Thomas
Director, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
Baroness Butler-Sloss
Dr Jonathan Tubb
Keeper at the Middle East Department, British Museum
Dr Robin Skeates
Director, Museum and Artefact Studies, Durham University
Professor Niall Sharples
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Cardiff
Dr John Schofield
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of York
Lord Colville
Peter Ride
Research Fellow in Visual Culture, University of Westminster
Dr Joshua Pollard
Head of Archaeology, University of Southampton
John McDonnell MP
Dr Dominic Perring
Director Centre of Applied Archaeology, University College, London
Dr Mark Pearce
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham
Dr Alan Outram
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter
Lord Redesdale
Dr Nick Merriman
Director, Manchester Museum, University of Manchester
Dr Antoinette McKane
Programme leader, Museum and Heritage Studies, Liverpool Hope University
Dr Sam McGuiness
Head of School of Education, University of Ulster
Professor Tom Jackson
Director of Centre for Information Management, Loughborough University
Professor Audrey Horning
Head of School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, University of Belfast
Professor Carl Heron
Head of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford
Professor Roberta Gilchrist
Head of School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading
Professor Chris Gerrard
Head of Department of Archaeology, Durham University
Dr Allen Foster
Head of Department of Information Studies, University of Wales
Dr Andrew Flinn
Director, International Centre for Archives and Records Management Research, University College, London
Professor Keith Dobney
Head of Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen
Professor Tim Darvill
Director, Centre for Archaeology, University of Bournemouth
Dr Vicki Cummings
Reader in Archaeology, School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences, University of Central Lancashire
Professor Jim Crow
Head of Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
Dr Gillian Carr
Director of Studies in Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Professor Stuart Campbell
Head of School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester
Dr Alexandrina Buchanan
Chair of the Forum for Archives and Records Management in Education and Research; Co-director, Centre for Archive Studies, University of Liverpool
Dr Andrew Bracey
Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, University of Lincoln
Professor Graeme Barker
Director McDonald Institute for Archaeology, Cambridge University
Professor Douglas Baird
Head of Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool
Dr Ian Anderson
Coordinator of Museum Studies, University of Glasgow
Adrian Sanders MP
Mike Williams
Secretary of the Nautical Archaeology Society
Hafed Walda
Archaeologist, King’s College London
Dr Lutgarde Vandeput
Director, British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara
Bijan Rouhani
Vice-president, International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness
Julian Radcliffe
Chairman, Art Loss Register
Dr Nigel Pollard
Swansea University
Jan Picton
Secretary of the British Association of Near Eastern Archaeologists
Suzanna Pembroke
Fiona Macalister
John Lewis
General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Society of Antiquaries of London
David Lakin
Paul Fox
University of York and University College London
Peter Clayton
Hugo Clarke
UK National Committee of the Blue Shield
Dr Neil Brodie
Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Glasgow
Dr Suzanne Macleod