The Protection of Cultural Heritage

Within the overarching frame of Advanced Cultural Competence the CCOE is stressing the operational relevance of CIMIC related protection of Cultural Heritage. Firstly, focussing on Cultural Heritage creates situational awareness of the military towards the mission area. Furthermore, a military mission influences the reaction of the local population on the mission.

Cultural Heritage includes any form of artistic or symbolic material signs which are handed on from generation to generation to each culture. Cultural heritage can be tangible or intangible. Intangible cultural heritage is defined by UNESCO as practices, expressions, knowledge, skills that communities, groups and in some cases individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage” . Tangible cultural heritage is often also referred to as cultural property. Cultural property is movable or immovable property with importance to the cultural heritage of every people, for instance buildings and books.

CCOE Research on the protection of Cultural Heritage

To ensure the protection of cultural property in the future, the current status of the protection of Cultural Heritage needs to be assessed. Therefore, the CCOE is performing a comparative study on the protection of Cultural Heritage in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. Experiences in current missions have shown the operational implication of the protection of Cultural Heritage. The outcome of this study will contribute to the knowledge on the protection of Cultural Heritage which is vital for achieving mission success. The knowledge gained on the protection of Cultural Heritage will contribute to the threefold mission of the CCOE:

  • Doctrine development
  • Improve training & education
  • Support missions and operations

The study will be based on a comparative model that is developed on a theoretical framework through literature research and subject matter input on the protection of Cultural Heritage. Within the comparative model the following subjects will be addressed:


  • The legal framework of protection of Cultural Heritage
  • The protection of Cultural Heritage on a political level
  • The military implementation of the protection of Cultural Heritage
  • How training and education on the protection of Cultural Heritage is being organised

The comparative model will be used on the reference cases Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. These reference cases represent NATO and non NATO-members and countries which have and have not signed the ratification of the protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Event of Armed Conflict.
In order to ensure a comprehensive approach on the protection of Cultural Heritage different perspectives will be taken into account. Therefore, key actors on the political level, the military level and from the NGO perspective will be interviewed. This will result in ‘best practices’ of strategies on the protection of Cultural Heritage. Finally, recommendations will be concluded. The progress and the results of this study will be publicly available through the website of the CCOE.

Relevant documents, articles & links

The legal foundations of the protection of cultural property are described in the 1954 The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and it’s two protocols. The convention is signed by 186 countries.

A striking example of the operational relevance of the protection of cultural heritage is described in the Wall Street Journal’s slideshow ‘Learning a Hard History Lesson in ‘Talibanistan’ by Michael M. Philips.
This article and its pictures illustrate how Afghan citizens of the Karzegay province were angered by the expansion of a U.S. military base, as this was built on top of ancient underground-irrigation systems. The underground canals, calles karez, originated in southwest Persia around 1.000 B.C. and subsequently migrated to Afghanistan. American and Afghan officials had to mend the affected relations with the locals, compensate for the damage and redesign the base.

In ‘The Strategic Value of Heritage Training’ emphasize Laurie W. Rush and Matthew F. Bogdanos the operational relevance of the protection of cultural heritage, and therefore the necessity of strategic understanding of, respect for and training in cultural heritage.

Organisations involved

Participation

If you or your organisation would be interested in participating in the overall dialogue (sending a representative or providing inputs through other means) you are cordially invited to do so by approaching CCOE through the POC on the right.