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Cultural Property Bill gets first reading in House

Hon Judith Tizard
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage

5 September 2008 Media Statement
Cultural Property Bill gets first reading in House

The Cultural Property (Protection in Armed Conflict) Bill had its first reading in Parliament today, Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard said.

The Bill will enable New Zealand to accede to the Protocols to the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict – commonly known as the 1954 Hague Convention. New Zealand ratified the Convention itself on 25 July.

“This is an important step for New Zealand. The Hague Convention is a major international agreement that seeks to protect cultural property from the effects of armed conflict. The Bill will meet obligations required under the Protocols of the Convention,” Judith Tizard said.

The Hague Convention and its Protocols work in a similar way to the Geneva Conventions which safeguard civilians. Nationally important cultural property to be safeguarded includes historic monuments, archaeological sites, art works, collections of books, museums, and scientific collections.

The Protocols provide supplementary provisions to the Convention. The First Protocol is concerned with the illegal export trade in cultural objects from warring states. The Second Protocol provides additional protection to the most important cultural objects in the world. Both Protocols require legislative action before New Zealand can become Party to them.

The Bill will criminalise actions such as stealing or destroying important cultural property in times of war. It will also prohibit trade in cultural property removed from occupied territory and prevent unauthorised use of the Convention emblem.

“With this Bill, New Zealand reinforces its commitment to the international measures which protect cultural activity and cultural property. These include other UN agreements to prevent the illegal export or import of important cultural artefacts.

“Taking this step increases the likelihood that important New Zealand cultural property would survive any possible armed conflict on New Zealand soil,” Judith Tizard said.

Once this Bill is passed, New Zealand will become a full member of the Hague Convention family of nations.


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