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Blue Helmet Forum Austria 2019: An Initiative of the Association of Austrian Peacekeepers
Protection of Cultural Heritage in Peace Operations

Vienna, September 26th – 27th, 2019

National Defence Academy, Stiftgasse 2a, 1070 Wien, Austria
Sala Terrena

“Damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world.” (Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, 1954)

The Association of Austrian Peacekeepers (AAP) annually organizes the Blue Helmet Forum Austria (BHFA) in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Defence, especially the Directorate General for Security Policy and the National Defence Academy. The BHFA brings together international, regional and local experts of the peacekeeping community to discuss issues that are at the heart of their agenda.

Since military targets have changed from purely opposing armed forces to the identity of the opponent, the conflict between cultures and the destruction of cultural heritage have become an integral part of armed conflict. What can be considered a type of cultural genocide has become a weapon of war, hence the international community is slowly but surely now including cultural protection in its peace operations.

Not only military targets have changed, but legislation has also changed. The military perception of legislation stems from World War II, when the bombing of Dresden and Coventry was not deliberate destruction of cultural heritage but was part of psychological war and destruction of cultural heritage was collateral damage. The 1954 Hague Convention, which established rules for the protection of cultural goods during armed conflict, is the first international treaty designed to protect cultural heritage in war and conflict, and led to the establishment of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) in 1996 aimed at protecting the world’s cultural heritage threatened by wars and natural disasters. The Second Protocol of 1999 to the 1954 Hague Convention was important because it brought the destruction of cultural heritage into the realm of criminal law, including the role of the individual soldier.

The next major legal step was the establishment of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, a legal institution which could pursue and prosecute (as it did, for example, the Malian fighter who destroyed shrines and historic sites in Timbuktu in 2012). In response to increasing challenges, the international community has launched a number of initiatives to strengthen the protection of cultural heritage in conflict situations and to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property. The UNESCO Military Manual and newly developed NATO heritage protection training materials are useful tools for insights and a solid understanding of the legal and operational aspects of the protection of cultural property in armed conflict, in the framework of the 1954 Hague Convention.

The United Nation Security Council resolution 2347 (2017) has resulted in the adoption of strong regulations and growing efforts to document, preserve and safeguard cultural heritage at risk. In addition to resolution 2347 (2017), the Security Council has adopted the following resolutions related to cultural heritage: resolution 2199 (2015), adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations; and resolutions 2253 (2015) & 2368 (2017), in which the Security Council recognised the illicit trafficking of artefacts as a source of terrorist financing. The Security Council has further considered culture and its protection in the context of United Nations peacekeeping and political missions, in its resolutions 2100 (2013) on Mali and 2233 (2015) on Iraq.

The Blue Helmet Forum Austria 2019 is held in cooperation with Blue Shield Austria in line with the Blue Helmet Blue Shield Austria Memorandum which was signed in Vienna 2016. The memorandum was triggered by the recognition of the necessity of a sustainable and prompt integration of cultural property protection in the planning and operations of all UN Peacekeeping missions as well as in the training of UN Peacekeeping officers.

The Blue Helmet Forum Austria 2019 is devoted to cultural property protection as new and important agenda in training and in peacekeeping missions. It will furthermore explore in a comparative approach the status of cultural property protection in NATO as well as in national armed forces in cooperation between different actors in the broad field of cultural property protection, including civilian experts and academia.

The Forum will be held in English and will be open to a limited number of participants. The conference fee covers all costs for administration, meals, conference documents and the cultural program. Accompanying partners are welcome to participate in all social and cultural events at a reduced fee. The publication of the Forum proceedings will be sent to all participants and relevant organisations and institutions.

Dress Code: Military Class A Uniform, Civilian Business Attire

President: GEN Günther GREINDL (ret)
Academic Directors: COL Dr. Georg EBNER, NDA and CPT Julia LECHNER, NDA

The Registration form is available at: www.peacekeeper.at

Download the (pdf) Programme BHFA 2019