30.07.2019 - Culture Sector

UNESCO training on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict takes place in Egypt

CPP Workshop, Egyptian Army

The Secretariat of the 1954 Hague Convention organized, in close cooperation with the UNESCO Regional Office in Cairo, from 24 to 26 June a workshop for the Egyptian rmy on the protection of cultural heritage before, during and after armed conflict and natural disasters.

Held in Cairo, the workshop focused on the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols in the context of International Humanitarian Law as well as the Law of Armed Conflict, the Geneva Conventions and the UNESCO cultural conventions. Apart from theory, much attention was paid to the practical implementation of the tasks bestowed upon the military with regard to cultural property protection. On the third day of the workshop, a site visit was organized to the National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo.

The participants were all senior army officers, ranging from planners and educators to special forces and a military museum curator. The international team of experts from UNESCO, International Committee of Red Cross in Geneva, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the Lebanon Office of Diakonia (a faith-based Swedish development organization) in Beirut, and the Egyptian Ministry of Justice conducted the training courses.

The success of the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols is largely dependent on the implementation of its provisions by military forces who are engaged in armed conflict. As the primary actors concerned with the conduct of hostilities and the stabilization of conflict zones, military forces play a crucial role in ensuring cultural property is respected, as well as protected from damage and destruction during times of war. For this reason, the UNESCO Secretariat of the 1954 Hague Convention has developed, and continues to develop, several military training tools, publications, and resources which are designed to inform military forces of their obligations under the Convention and its Protocols. These materials also seek to provide these forces with the practical knowledge and tools necessary to respond to situations concerning the protection of cultural property when they arise.

During the workshop, educational materials such as the Cultural Property Protection Military Manual in Arabic were distributed. The participants showed much interest in this subject which proved to be new to many of them.

Egypt was the first military power to sign the 1954 Hague Convention in 1955, and the country contributes to peace operations all over the world. Training and education in cultural awareness and cultural property protection is essential, and may contribute to military mission success.

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