BSI supports cultural protection law in Ukraine

BSI supports cultural protection law in Ukraine

As part of their continuing advocacy for the better implementation of international law, in May BSI returned to Ukraine to meet the Principal Deputy National Security Advisor in Kyiv, along with several staff members. They discussed the protection of Ukrainian Cultural Heritage as a national security issue, and current policy development efforts for current and post conflict. Other meetings included members of the Territorial Defence Forces, to explore plans to expand current field capabilities to assess cultural heritage damage in the combat zone and ways BSI may assist.

At the request of the Ukrainian authorities, and in particular the Ministry of Culture, BSI continues to promote the implementation of international humanitarian law, specifically the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols (1954/1999). In support of this work, BSI also met with representatives from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, including the Directorates of International Law, CIMIC (civil-military cooperation), and Humanitarian Affairs about coordinating diverse capabilities across the Ministry to support cultural heritage protection in the battlespace. Additional consultations included HERI (the Ukrainian Heritage Rescue Emergency Initiative), and the Director of the Kherson Regional Art Museum, to follow up on work in previous visits.

“We express our ongoing concern about the fighting which affects both communities and their cultural heritage. We are working closely with local and national authorities to develop strategies to encourage better implementation of international humanitarian law for cultural property protection. International humanitarian law prohibits unnecessary, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against civilians as well as their cultural property, and prohibits the looting of cultural property for any reason whatsoever. We recall the words of the Preamble to the 1954 Hague Convention: “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”, and like those who wrote it, we reiterate that the protection and preservation of cultural heritage is of importance for all peoples of the world. The Blue Shield will continue to promote and support the implementation of international law, and the values it represents”.

A man talking to two women - all are wrapped up warm and it is very cold.
Discussing the looting of the Kherson Art Museum with Alina Dotsenko, Director, Kherson Art Museum. © BSI 27 Nov 2022

On 18-19 May, BSI also attended the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) sponsored Conference ‘Culture at War’ in Lviv. The event brought together renowned international experts on cultural property protection and representatives from Ukrainian and European Union state authorities, law enforcement and rule of law agencies as well as museums and cultural institutions. BSI presented some of their findings from their recent assessment missions which took place between November 2022 to January 2023, and spoke about the challenges to effective implementation to the 1954 Hague Convention. The conference was attended by international and national actors including UNESCO, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), European External Action Service (EEAS), and the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture.

As a neutral, impartial, and independent NGO, Blue Shield International reiterates that under International Humanitarian Law and other relevant legal instruments, including Human Rights Law and UN Security Council resolutions, all parties involved in the fighting in Ukraine must take measures to protect moveable, immoveable, tangible, and intangible heritage at risk.

The Blue Shield stands in solidarity with all civilians, including ex-combatants, affected, or displaced by the conflict, whether they be in Ukraine, Russia, or elsewhere. We ask all those involved to abide by all relevant international law and to protect the civilian population and their heritage wherever and whenever possible. We stress in particular the responsibilities of all belligerent parties involved under the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols of 1954 and, if relevant, 1999.


Blue Shield International Statement on the conflict one year on (March 2023)

Blue Shield International visits Ukraine November 2022 and January 2023

Read more about the EEAM Conference on their website

Blue Shield National Committees are also supporting Ukraine

Visit our Law Library to find out more about the international laws protecting heritage in conflict

Share this article:

Scroll to Top