Coping With Culture 2019 – Centres Containing Monuments Workshop

Coping With Culture 2019 – Centres Containing Monuments Workshop

Group of people receiving a talk
Attendees at the Coping with Culture 2019 CPP Workshop, run by BSI. Attendees are at the Visitors Centre for the Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus World Heritage Centre. © Alette Smith, 2019
After eight successful conferences, the Command and Staff College of the German Armed Forces (host), Engagement Global and the Centre for Leadership Development and Civic Education ran the highly successful 2019 “Coping with Culture” conference. The conference offered an international network for participants from politics, civil society, military and the scientific community. The topic was “Culture in times of geo-political challenges”. Around 80 members of the military and civilian experts from 12 countries discussed questions about the protection of cultural property, the cooperation of different organizations with different organizational cultures, or the culture factor in the different national military organizations.
All participants agreed that intercultural competence is a key competence for members of all organizations and that the culture factor continues to play a central role in the training and later in the application of the respective missions, regardless of populism and changing military paradigms.

Workshop 3: The proactive protection of cultural heritage – Hamburg’s World Heritage Site

Generously supported by the Bundeswehr Command and Staff Academy( FüAk Bundeswehr Command and Control Academy) in Hamburg, Blue Shield International ran a Cultural Property Protection workshop, building on the groundwork of the 2018 CwC workshop. The aim of the 2019 workshop was to explore the difficulties relating to protecting Centres Containing Monuments, as described in the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Participants were given the following description:

The 1954 Hague Convention describes types of cultural property that are to be protected in the event of armed conflict. These include (but are not limited to, cultural and religiously significant buildings; works of art; manuscripts, books, archives, and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest; as well as scientific collection; and buildings designed to exhibit them. It also includes centers containing a large amount of cultural property as defined [above] to be known as `centers containing monuments’. It is axiomatic that in order to protect cultural property, you must know what and where it is. This becomes especially true in the era of precision weaponry, and in the face of specifically targeted deliberate destruction, as seen at Palmyra and Mosul, where individual buildings were clearly targeted, whilst others were ignored.

Current CPP training for armed forces is largely based on the assumption that lists of cultural property will be provided by Ministries of Culture as required under the 1954 Hague Convention (which rarely happens), or by UNESCO or other legitimate body (which is not always possible). Training exercises usually involve the assessment or evacuation of a single site. However, site lists frequently only provide a single centre point to indicate a centre containing monuments. Few simulations have explored that scenario. This workshop aims to explore how the provision of a single centre point to indicate significant cultural property will affect operational planning, and resource capability, and what changes could be made to improve cultural property protection as a result.

EXERCISE BRIEF Working in syndicates, workshop participants will:

  1. Explore what cultural property/cultural heritage comprises
  2. Evaluate the timescales and difficulties in collecting relevant information relating to a real Centre Containing Monuments
  3. Develop a detailed assessment of threats to cultural property using the Cultural Property Estimate Process and recommend risk mitigation strategies to decision makers
  4. Translate theory into military practice, remembering both international heritage law and the principles of LOAC
  5. Deliver an operationally meaningful CPP briefing orally, assisted by relevant graphics.

The workshop will conclude with a discussion of the problems and challenges associated with protecting Centres Containing Monuments, with (hopefully) ideas for solutions! The workshop aims to:

  • Give participants experience of managing CPP in an operationally and tactically relevant manner
  • Develop partnerships between armed forces and heritage professionals to establish how each can inform the other
  • Consider the utility of centres containing monuments
  • Examine the implementation of centres containing monuments in light of current practice, and consider solutions.

Workshop Summary Report

The following report was given by Dr Cunliffe at the close of the conference when the workshop summaries were presented. “Our workshop marked a first for CPP – previous training for CPP has largely focused on the evaluation of single sites – cultural heritage management, however, particularly for highly significant sites, has been marked by a trend towards the inscription of heritage ensembles – places whose value is embodied by the totality of the monuments, rather than any individual building or site. Such areas are designated in the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict as “centres continuing monuments” (article 1 (c) ). However, they are extremely difficult to manage in terms of conflict. We gave our participants no information about the area – a situation entirely reflective of real life, and asked them to do a brief evaluation of the area, before meeting a guide who told us the history and value of the area, and assisted delegates in their risk assessment. The area delegates assessed was the World Heritage listed Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus. This comprises a 26 ha warehouse district composed of protected buildings, bridges and canals; and adjacent to the modernist Chilehaus office building, the Kontorhaus district is an area of over five hectares featuring six very large office complexes built from the 1920s to the 1940s. The area also includes approximately 9 museums. Working in syndicates, delegates assess the most significant locations that should be protected and evaluated the risks in a light of a fictional, but sadly plausible, scenario. Delegates developed their ability to plan to safeguard a centre containing monuments. They looked at how to manage cultural property from an operationally and tactically relevant perspective where heritage professionals were supported inform military decision making and develop closer working relationships. In particular we thank our syndicate leaders, US Air Force Captain Alette Smith and British Army Cultural Property Protection Unit Captain Suzannah Joy, both of whom recently completed the British Army Special to Arms CPP course. Their participation and expertise was invaluable to the successful exploration of the topic. In many ways, cultural property protection is in its infancy in both heritage and military planning. We would like to express our deep thanks to the CwC team at the Bundeswehr who very generously supported our workshop, providing the opportunity to engage both heritage professionals and military officers in exploring the nuances of the 1954 Hague Convention and how to protect area. This was extremely valuable, and what we learned over the last few days will go towards informing cultural property protection as a developing field. I would also like to thank our delegates.

Two of our delegates gave presentations: US Air Force Captain Alette Smith presented on CPP Advocacy: Marketing the Mission to Military Commanders. She used Information Operations as an exemplar of how to advocate for the inclusion of CPP into military agendas. Hamady Gaye, the President of Blue Shield Senegal, presented on the cultural property protection situation in Senegal. 

Download the presentation by Hamady Gaye as a pdf – H Gaye_hambourg

For many of our delegates, the workshop subject was an entirely new way of thinking. I hope we have begun a dialogue about roles, responsibilities and cultural property protection activity that can continue past this workshop. The 1954 Hague Convention places responsibilities on both armed forces and heritage professionals and this workshop has allowed us to explore how they can enable heritage protection – together.”


Are you interested in the training Blue Shield offers? Learn more on our Training page!

Read about the full event on the Bundeswehr website

Read more about the 1954 Hague Convention and Protocols in our Law Library

Visit the UNESCO Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus World Heritage site website

Read about the 2018 Coping with Culture conference

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