2003 UNESCO DECLARATION CONCERNING THE INTENTIONAL DESTRUCTION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

The 2003 UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage recommends a series of measure that states should adopt to combat the intentional destruction of cultural heritage (chapter III):

  1. States should take all appropriate measures to prevent, avoid, stop and suppress acts of intentional destruction of cultural heritage, wherever such heritage is located.
  2. States should adopt the appropriate legislative, administrative, educational and technical measures, within the framework of their economic resources, to protect cultural heritage and should revise them periodically with a view to adapting them to the evolution of national and international cultural heritage protection standards.
  3. States should endeavour, by all appropriate means, to ensure respect for cultural heritage in society, particularly through educational, awareness-raising and information programmes.
  4. States should:
  1. become parties to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two 1954 and 1999 Protocols and the Additional Protocols I and II to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions, if they have not yet done so;
  2. promote the elaboration and the adoption of legal instruments providing a higher standard of protection of cultural heritage, and
  3. promote a coordinated application of existing and future instruments relevant to the protection of cultural heritage.

It also addresses both State and individual criminal responsibility.

Although the Declaration may influence legal opinion, unless its recommendations are adopted and implemented by states, it has no legal power in its own right.

Cello player playing in the ruins of a destroyed building.

Image taken during the war in 1992 in Sarajevo in the partially destroyed National Library. The cello player is local musician Vedran Smailović, who often came to play for free at different funerals during the siege despite the fact that funerals were often targeted by Serb forces. By Mikhail Evstafiev, via Wikimedia Commons