The 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was written in response to the large-scale intentional destruction and damage to cultural property perpetrated by Nazi Germany during World War II. Following the Balkan Wars, the Convention was updated in its Second Protocol of 1999. Despite this updating, the 2003 war and subsequent occupation of Iraq have demonstrated additional shortcomings of the Convention and its Protocols.
I suggest that this dichotomy between cultural nationalism and internationalism is, in fact, a false one and that it omits other values inherent in cultural heritage.
The 2003 Iraq war exposed serious shortcomings in the international legal framework built over the last century to prevent the pillaging, looting and destruction of cultural property in times of war. International law encompasses several legal instruments intended to ensure protection of cultural heritage during armed conflict and occupation. However, these international conventions need to be evaluated in light of changes in methods of warfare and occupation; changes in cultural resource management techniques that impact historic monuments and archaeological site preservation; and our current understanding of the interaction between warfare and the international art market.
A half-day symposium moderated by Michael Dietler (Anthropology) and Richard Neer (Art History)