Panel: The Creation of the Blue Shield

Panel: The Creation of the Blue Shield



Panel Discussion

The creation of the Blue Shield, 6 June 1996

with the founding signatories
of the Blue Shield and the first President of the Association

This year the Blue Shield is celebrating our 25th anniversary!

We’re starting our anniversary celebrations with a panel discussion with the four people who founded Blue Shield on 6 June 1996, looking back at what inspired them, and their vision for the organisation, to be chaired by the first President of the Blue Shield Association, Karl Habsburg.

25 years ago, four international heritage organisations recognised the need for greater cooperation to protect cultural heritage at risk from conflict and disaster: the International Council on Archives (ICA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Together they founded the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS), with a vision for national committees across the world.

Often referred to as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross, today the Blue Shield is a non-governmental, non-profit, largely voluntary international organisation, working to protect museums, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries and audio-visual material, and significant natural areas, as well as intangible heritage. We are realising the vision of national committees operating across the world, coordinated by an International Board. Members include the founding organisations, governments, emergency services, armed forces, academics, and all those with responsibility for heritage protection in crisis.

Join us to explore the founding of our organisation and learn about what inspired its creation? What was their vision for the future, and what do they see as the challenges and obstacles in realising it?

Meet the Speakers

Older white man


Patrick Boylan

Then Vice-President of ICOM

Patrick Boylan directed museums, arts and archives services in England before becoming Professor and a Head of Department at City University, London. He has authored numerous publications on the protection of culture in times of war, and worked as a consultant to UNESCO, EU, World Heritage Committee, Council of Europe, World Bank and many national governments, and played a leading role in developing the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention. He was the Centenary President of The Museums Association (UK) 1978-1980, and Vice-President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) 1992- 1998 amongst other posts.

Older white man


Dinu Bumbaru

Then member of the International Executive Committee of ICOMOS

A graduate in architecture from Université de Montréal, Dinu did his Masters in Conservation dissertation at the University of York on preparedness and international emergency assistance for heritage sites at risk, drawing on his participation in the 1992 UNESCO expert mission to bombarded Dubrovnik. Since 1982, he has been a member of staff with the Heritage Montreal Foundation. He complemented that local and metropolitan experience with volunteer engagement in ICOMOS where he held various offices including Secretary General and Chair of the Canadian and Risk Preparedness committees

Older white man with black glasses


George Mackenzie

Then ICA Deputy Secretary-General

When he retired in 2012, George MacKenzie was head of National Records of Scotland, a department of the Scottish Government responsible for historical archives, record keeping standards, civil registration and the decennial census. His career has been mainly in archives and he was Deputy Secretary General of the International Council on Archives (ICA) in Paris from 1995-97. He has also consulted on archives management for UNESCO, the World Bank, and various governments. He has been external examiner for postgraduate archives and records management students at the universities of Liverpool, Aberystwyth and Dundee. He is President of the Scottish Records Society.

Older white lady


Marie-Thérèse Varlamoff

Then Director of IFLA Preservation and Conservation Core Activity, IFLA

From 1969-2006 Marie-Thérèse has been working at the French National Library (BNF), successively in charge of various sections, including exhibitions. In 1994, she became director of the IFLA Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC) with regional centres respectively located in Tokyo, Washington, Canberra, Caracas and Moscow. She was the IFLA representative for the UNESCO Memory of the World and numerous international cultural organisations (ICOM, ICOMOS, ICA). As Vice-President of the French Committee of the Blue Shield, she promoted the idea of national blue shield committees in each country she visited. She has launched numerous surveys and publications dealing with preservation and disaster preparedness.

Photo of the head of a white man in his late 50s in a suit

Former President

Karl Habsburg

Karl Habsburg was President of the Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS) from 2008-2016 when ANCBS merged with ICBS to form the Blue Shield. He remained as President of the Blue Shield until stepping down at in August 2020. During his Presidency, he led fact-finding missions in Egypt, Libya, Lebanon and Mali to examine site damage. He is an Austrian Army Cultural Property Protection Officer, and has lectured and taught worldwide, in addition to creating standards and guidelines, and supporting the training of police, armed forces, civil administration and international organizations. He is insistent about working with local populations to protect sites, and is a passionate advocate for the protection of intangible heritage.

This is the start of a series of events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Blue Shield. Keep an eye on our website or follow us on Twitter
(@BlueShield_Int) to hear about future activities!

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