Article 6 of the 1954 Hague Convention states that cultural property may bear a distinctive emblem so as to facilitate its recognition. While the marking of cultural property under special protection during times of armed conflict is mandatory, the marking of cultural property under general protection is not. It is left to the discretion of each State Party. In fact, some States have refrained from marking their cultural property, arguing that it would make that property more vulnerable to attack by an enemy determined to destroy its symbols of national identity. Unfortunately, this proved to be the case during the war in the former Yugoslavia where cultural property marked with the Blue Shield was intentionally targeted.
The proper use of the Blue Shield emblem is defined in Article 17 of the 1954 Hague Convention:
ARTICLE 171. The distinctive emblem repeated three times may be used only as a means of identification of:(a) immovable cultural property under special protection;(b) the transport of cultural property under the conditions provided for in Articles 12 and 13;(c) improvised refuges, under the conditions provided for in the Regulations for the execution of the Convention.2. The distinctive emblem may be used alone only as a means of identification of:(a) cultural property not under special protection;(b) the persons responsible for the duties of control in accordance with the Regulations for the execution of the Convention;(c) the personnel engaged in the protection of cultural property; (d) the identity cards mentioned in the Regulations for the execution of the Convention.3. During an armed conflict, the use of the distinctive emblem in any other cases than those mentioned in the preceding paragraphs of the present Article, and the use for any purpose whatever of a sign resembling the distinctive emblem, shall be forbidden.
COMMENTARIES ON THE USE OF THE BLUE SHIELD EMBLEM:
=The Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. It also is the emblem specified in the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict for marking protected cultural property.
HAVE YOU SEEN A BLUE SHIELD EMBLEM?
Here's our photo gallery of some of the sites where the emblem is used.
Monument of the Memory and Truth, Cuscatlán Park, San Salvador: Marking with the emblem of the Blue ShieldJoya de Ceren, El SalvadorTyre, Lebanon © Unesco/ V. DaugeMarking originally used in the GDR to mark protected buildings/monuments. Now used in most German states.The Blue Shield marking on a roof must be large enough to be seen from high altitude. This symbol was painted atop the roof of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad prior to the 2003 invasion. Photo courtesy Dr. John Malcolm Russell.The Blue Shield emblem on a historic building in Wiener Neustadt, AustriaBasilica Menor de la Merced, Cuzco, Peru, Photo Nancy C. WilkieBasilica of the Cathedral, Cuzco, Peru, Photo Nancy C. WilkieTemplo del Triunfo, Cuzco, Peru, Photo Nancy C. WilkieBelgium, Wallonia has added a digital information layer to more than 2800 Blue Shield signs. This enables visitors to access information about local heritage and history in different languages. Photo © Jo Van HoveBeschermd erfgoed (protected heritage) plaque on the museum of René de Clercq's birthplace in Deerlijk.Plaque of the Bundesdenkmalamton, a building in Salzburg, indicating "Cultural property" in four languages; German: Kulturdenkmal, English, French: Bien culturel, and Russian:Культурное Достояние. Photo: Corine Wegener.Please identify its location and let us know if you would like a photo credit.
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