U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield

Laws and Treaties Protecting Cultural Property

Geneva Conventions

 

 

12 August 1949—Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War

The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 147, stipulates that “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” is a “grave breach” of the Convention.  The Commentary on Article 147 of the Convention adds, “To constitute a grave breach, such destruction and appropriation must be extensive: an isolated incident would not be enough.”

Full text of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention »

Commentary on Article 147 »

8 June 1977— Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)

Two articles of Protocol I have provisions that pertain to the protection of cultural property.  Article 48 requires that Parties to a conflict “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.”  Article 53 requires that combatants not commit any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples; not to use such objects in support of the military effort; and not to make such objects the object of reprisals.

These principles had been established in the Hague Convention of 1907 and were recognized as part of customary international law by the Charter of the International Military Tribunal adopted in 1945.

Full text of Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Convention »

 

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A map of the parties to the en:Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols.    Parties to GC I–IV and P I–III    Parties to GC I–IV and P I–II    Parties to GC I–IV and P I and III    Parties to GC I–IV and P I    Parties to GC I–IV and P III    Parties to GC I–IV and no P