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Blue Shield MOU

Major step forward in protecting the past

Published on: 14 February 2020

Blue Shield signs agreement with International Committee of the Red Cross

Better protection

Professor Peter Stone’s ambition to end the unnecessary destruction of cultural property during conflict has moved another step closer.

This week, Blue Shield, the advisory body he is Vice-President of, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva.

The agreement will see the two organisations working together to:
• Encourage countries to ratify international law for the protection of cultural property during armed conflict and provide technical advice on how to implement this

• Cooperate to raise awareness among humanitarian organisations and national officials about the protection of cultural property

• Share information where possible and compatible with security, on cultural property at risk

“This is a really important step forward in the wider protection of cultural property and it simply would not have happened without the support of the University,” said Professor Stone, the UNESCO Chair for Cultural Property Protection and Peace. “It’s a statement to the world that both organisations see the critical importance to communities of their tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

“It’s a first step to much stronger collaboration and, we hope, much better protection.”

Professor Peter Stone (second left) with colleagues from Blue Shield and the ICRC. Image courtesy of the ICRC

A long and productive relationship

Newcastle University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Chris Day said: “I am extremely pleased and proud that Newcastle has been central to the development of this formal relationship. It underlines the importance of universities working closely with international humanitarian organisations and having a direct impact on their work.”

The Blue Shield is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that advises UNESCO about the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. It was created in 1996 and comprises an international Board elected by 25 national committees.

 “I am extremely pleased to be signing this MoU with the ICRC as it underlines the fact that the protection of cultural property and heritage is indivisibly interwoven with the protection of people,” said Karl Habsburg, President of the Blue Shield. “The ICRC and Blue Shield focus on, and have expertise in, different aspects of this integrated whole, and our work supports and strengthens each other’s activities. I look forward to a long and very productive relationship.

“I should like to thank Benjamin Charlier, of the ICRC, and Professor Peter Stone and his UNESCO Chair team in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University in the UK.

“Without their work, and Newcastle University’s support, this MoU would not have been possible. Finally, I’d like to thank Jennifer Price Jones for her important contribution in helping develop Blue Shield’s work with the Humanitarian community.”

A humanitarian imperative

The ICRC is an independent, neutral organisation which ensures humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. It takes action in response to emergencies and promotes respect for international humanitarian law and its implementation in national law. Its work is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their 1977 Additional Protocols.

Underlining the value of this partnership agreement, Yves Daccord, Director-General of the ICRC said: “Protecting cultural property and cultural heritage against the devastating effects of war unfortunately remains a humanitarian imperative, today perhaps more than ever. Joining forces with a partner like the Blue Shield through the signing of this MoU is therefore extremely important for the ICRC.

“I am very pleased with this new partnership and look forward to maximising the impact of our programs in the field of the protection of cultural heritage, through the coordination of activities with the Blue Shield.”



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