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Protection of Cultural Property in War Becomes Law

Treaty Protecting Cultural Property During War Becomes Law - UNESCO

A treaty stipulating that cultural heritage must be protected during war and that individual perpetrators of "crimes against culture" must be held responsible became law today in participating countries, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php@URL_ID=19030&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html said today.

The Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Event of Armed Conflict entered into force after Costa Rica became the 20th country to ratify the pact.

UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said it is now more important than ever to protect cultural property in times of war. "Given its deeply symbolic value, belligerents too often make it a deliberate target for acts of pillaging, destruction and vandalism," he said.

Under the Second Protocol, an Intergovernmental Committee comprising 12 States Parties will monitor the implementation of the Convention and its two Protocols. The Committee will be able to designate certain cultural properties as being "of the greatest importance for humanity" and give them "enhanced protection."

The 1954 Convention has 108 States Parties. The First Protocol, adopted the same year, has 87 States Parties. It forbids the export of cultural property from an occupied territory, requires the return of such property to the territory from which it was removed and forbids warring parties to retain cultural property as war reparations.

Besides Costa Rica, the States Parties to the Second Protocol are Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Honduras, Libya, Lithuania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Qatar, Serbia and Montenegro, and Spain.

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