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Cultural property in conflict and peace

Professor Peter Stone, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace, Newcastle University

Date/Time: 4th February 2016

We are currently witnessing horrific human tragedy in Syria and Iraq, and atrocities in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Some of those responsible have resorted to seemingly senseless destruction of ancient sites, libraries, and archives. Culture and the sites and objects of the past are frequently casualties of conflict but we must question if this needs to happen. Why does cultural property get destroyed during conflict and is there anything that can be done to mitigate such damage and destruction? Can cultural property sites actually be used to foster a sense of peace?

Newcastle University has cooperated with UNESCO to establish a new Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace to try to begin to understand if the past always has to be a victim of conflict or whether it might be deployed as an agent of peace instead.

Speaker biography

Peter Stone is the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University, a post that was established on 1 January 2016.

In 2003 he was advisor to the Ministry of Defence regarding the identification and protection of the archaeological cultural heritage in Iraq. He has remained active in working with the military to refine attitudes and develop processes for the better protection of cultural property in times of conflict.

He has written extensively on this topic and, as part of this work, he co-edited, with Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly, The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq (2008) and edited Cultural Heritage, Ethics and the Military (2011). His article ‘The 4 Tier approach’ led to the establishment of the British Army’s Cultural Property Protection Working Group which hopes to re-establish a cultural property protection capability in UK forces.

Peter is the Chair of the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield and Secretary General of Blue Shield International.