18.10.2013 - UNESCO Office in Apia

New Zealand joined the Protocols of the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is the first international treaty of a world-wide vocation dedicated exclusively to the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict. The Convention was adopted together with a Protocol in order to prevent the export of cultural property from occupied territory, requiring the return of such property to the territory of the State from which it was removed. A review of the Convention initiated in the 1990s, resulting in the adoption of a Second Protocol to the Hague Convention in March 1999.

“Protecting cultural heritage during armed conflict helps create the conditions for peace,” Minister for the Arts Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson said in Paris today.

Mr Finlayson was at UNESCO HQs, where he formally deposited New Zealand’s treaty documents to join the Protocols to the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Culture in the event of Armed Conflict.

“The treaty was established in the aftermath of the massive destruction of culture and heritage during the Second World War, but it’s as relevant now as it was then,” Mr Finlayson said. “In the military intervention in Mali this year, protection of that country’s cultural treasures was a high priority. We even saw protection of culture built in to a UN peacekeeping mandate.”

The Convention’s Trust Fund provides help for countries to develop training materials and signage so that key sites can be protected during a conflict. New Zealand has announced a donation of $10,000 to this fund. New Zealand has developed training materials so military personnel on peacekeeping missions know their responsibilities.

“We need to respond to the key security issues that concern UN member states,” Mr Finlayson said. “Protection of culture and heritage is important to all countries and particularly those in conflict areas”.

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