The author stresses the importance of protecting cultural property from the effects of armed conflict as its damage or destruction destroys a community's identity and its links with its past, present and future, as well as diminishes the cultural heritage of humankind. The author draws attention to the recent destruction of cultural property in the civil war in Syria and the activities of the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) in Iraq. This chapter analyses the provisions of the principal legal instruments dealing with the protection of cultural property in armed conflict, namely the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (The 1954 Hague Convention), the 1954 Protocol for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the 1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, as well as other relevant instruments of international law. While the existing legal instruments may be adequate, the problem, as with international law generally, lies in the effective enforcement, particularly in situations of non-international armed conflict where the parties to the conflict have no regard for the dictates of international humanitarian law. But once hostilities have come to an end, it will be possible to bring offenders to justice, if necessary before the International Criminal Court. In the meantime, it is important that there should be widespread adherence to The 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols.
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