Cultural Property Protection (CPP) enjoys increasing focus as a part of the broader peace and security agenda. As concerns about cultural property (CP) recently started to migrate from the cultural sector to the defence and development sectors, aid planners and military commanders often find themselves lacking the tools for including CP in the planning, conduct and after-action review of initiatives and operations. There remains a considerable gap between developments in international law and policy, on the one hand, and practical investment in the area at national and international levels.
Against this background, an Expert and Stakeholder Meeting was organized by the Nordic Center for Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict and the Blue Shield International on Tuesday 22 – Wednesday 23 June 2021. We invited 20 stakeholders/focal points working on CPP or related issues in national and international organizations and agencies. The meeting aimed to:
- Assess the global capacity on and financing of CPP within defence forces and key international organisations
- Discuss general barriers for making CPP a priority issue and mobilizing practical resources for implementing policy and applicable international law
- Deepen existing and foster new dialogues and partnerships amongst stakeholders in states, international organizations, non-government organizations and expert milieus
- Examine new aspects of CPP as a thematic policy issue in the light of recent developments in global security, including the return to Collective Defence as a military planning paradigm.
Key observations resulting from the discussions were:
- The capacity in terms of positions/personnel and resources is globally viewed as extremely low compared to other protection related areas of global security
- Stakeholders and staff working on CPP struggle with making the case for prioritizing and mobilizing even basic resources.
- CPP is generally not considered to be a priority issue. There is a clear lack of support at the policy level for allocating funding and resources.
- The concept of CPP is unclear and varies across organizations and expert communities. This confusion of ends, means and relevant authorities stands as a key barrier for setting priorities and allocating resources.
- There is a lack of evidence and empirical lessons learned to underpin CPP as a thematic issue and operational challenge.