UK Finally Ratifies Hague Convention to Protect Threatened Heritage
The UK has pledged to protect cultural heritage threatened by conflict by announcing plans to incorporate the 1954 Hague Convention into British law.
Over 115 countries, including all members of the United Nations Security Council except the UK, have ratified the treaty so far.
The international agreement ensures that signatories don’t target each other’s cultural heritage during times of conflict.
British Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told the BBC that the convention will come into force in the UK “at the first opportunity,” adding that the timing of the ratification was motivated by the unprecedented cultural destruction by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“The loss of a country’s heritage threatens its very identity,” Whittingdale explained. He stressed that “the UK’s priority will continue to be the human cost of these conflicts,” but that “we must also do what we can to prevent any further cultural destruction.”
News of the planned ratification delighted campaigner Professor Peter Stone who told the BBC it was “fantastic news… as long as there are no further delays.”
“Some of the most important cultural sites in the world are at a significant risk of degradation and destruction by extremists elements and Britain is uniquely placed to prevent them from being lost forever,” said Ciarán Devane, chief executive of the British Council.
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