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In April 2003 the world was shocked to see the scenes of the looting of the Iraq National Museum. In fact over the past decade the world has witnessed many scenes of cultural vandalism – the destruction of the Neretva Bridge of Mostar and the destruction of the Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan being just two such examples. As a result the ability of international law to protect cultural heritage in times of armed conflict has assumed even greater importance.
‘War and Cultural Heritage’ contains in a single volume a commentary on the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the 1954 Protocol and the 1999 Second Protocol. The Second Protocol supplemented the 1954 Convention and significantly improved the protection of cultural property in times of armed conflict. The book also analyses other instruments of international humanitarian law relevant to the protection of cultural property, in particular the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols, which had a profound influence on the drafting of the 1954 Convention and the Second Protocol respectively.
The book will be of use both to students of international humanitarian law and to practitioners. It will be of particular use to members of the armed forces who need to be fully conversant with the rules of international humanitarian law in relation to cultural property. Its publication is timely in view of the United Kingdom’s recently announced intention to ratify the 1954 Convention and accede to its two Protocols.