A difficult year but a lot was achieved
A glance at the map on the cover of the BSI Report on National Committees Annual Reports from 2020 and 2021 Action Plans (pdf) of the BS National Committees and BSI shows just how much the organisation has grown since it was founded by ICOMOS, ICOM, ICA and IFLA in Paris, 25 years ago. Today Blue Shield International consists of a Secretariat — funded through Blue Shield President Professor Peter Stone’s UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection & Peace at Newcastle University – and 28 accredited National Committees (NCs) around the world. Another six NCs are in formation.
Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 was a difficult year, with many challenges and restrictions, but as the stories accompanying this article and the report itself show, NCs remained active and engaged, adapting their plans as necessary and implementing their activities mostly online instead of in person. Huge credit needs to go to each and every NC for demonstrating just how much can be achieved when determination is the driving force, and innovation the key.
NCs, whilst maintaining a great deal of autonomy to plan and implement their activities depending on their specific priorities and needs with regard to cultural property protection (CPP), are nevertheless asked to work within any (or all) of six key programme areas: Proactive protection and risk preparedness; Emergency response; Stabilisation, post-disaster recovery, and long-term/ongoing support activities; Legal compliance, policy, and their implementation; Capacity building activities, and education and training in support of Blue Shield’s Areas of Activity; and Coordination – of Blue Shield members and with partner organisations.
During 2020, a majority of Blue Shield NCs focused on networking and on building partnerships across the whole heritage spectrum. They also worked on strengthening collaboration with national armed forces on CPP in a wide range of activities from workshops and trainings to the creation of CPP units, the development of inventories or no-strike lists and combatting illicit trafficking and the theft of artefacts. NCs used social media channels extensively to raise public awareness about the importance of CPP; others focused on producing publications, educational tools and training manuals. Some NC’s launched awareness-raising campaigns or lobbied their governments for compliance with CPP legal instruments, and for the marking of cultural property with protective blue shield emblem plaques. Others visited schools to talk about the work of the Blue Shield with students, or partnered with the emergency services for training and capacity building, and acted as information focal points during disaster response and recovery activities. The news stories of their work are a testament to just how much they were able to achieve.
As well as their Annual Reports, National Committees also submitted their Strategic Plans for the future. Looking ahead, it is hoped that the future will see a return to more in person activities, with all the advantages that face-to-face meetings and discussions and trainings can bring for building knowledge and prompting action on CPP.
Find the 2020 Annual Reports and 2021 Strategic Plans of our National Committees in our Document Library