Group of people, some in army uniforms, others in suits, standing in from of the military academy, smiling for the camera

Attendees at the Irish Defence Force Cultural Property Protection training visiting the Military Archive. © Irish National Committee of the Blue Shield, 2019

Blue Shield Ireland and Blue Shield International co-organised and delivered a three day training course in Dublin on cultural property protection for Peacekeepers to the Irish Defence Forces with a member of the new UK Ministry of Defence Cultural Property Protection Unit, and with contributions from the Irish national committee of Blue Shield.

The course aimed to make all participants aware, as commanders, of their responsibilities and obligations, at home and on overseas deployments, regarding the protection of cultural property and its potential for supporting mission success.

Course Objectives
To:

  1. Encourage participants to think of the complexity, and importance, of group values and identities related to their heritage[s]
  2. Introduce participants to the importance of cultural property protection (CPP) for Peacekeeping Deployments
  3. Provide participants with a basic knowledge and understanding of international humanitarian law relating to CPP
  4. Provide participants with knowledge and understanding of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999 and the Irish Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention) Act 2017
  5. Provide participants with knowledge and understanding of the Blue Shield International NGO, the Irish national committee of the Blue Shield, and the Irish Heritage Council
  6. Provide participants with knowledge and understanding of the UK MoD’s Cultural Property Protection Unit
  7. Give participants the opportunity to practice their knowledge and understanding through a practical exercise the culmination of which will be a CPP brief to the Force Commander
People in army uniforms crouch over objects,learning object handling

Members of the Irish Defence Force learn artefact handling © Irish National Committee of the Blue Shield, 2019

In addition to class based work looking at law and practice, attendees also carried out practical exercises. They learned the basics of artefact handling, and visited the Military Archive, evaluating how best to protect the cultural property in a fictional threat scenario, after which they were expected to prepare and deliver briefs to the Force Commander, advising on the importance of cultural property in the mission, the risks it presented to the mission, and what risks it faced, and the best course of action to take to support national efforts to protect it.

The course was very well received and evaluation feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

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Learn more about the laws governing the protection of cultural property in armed conflict in our Law Library