U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield

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 History of Protection of Cultural Property

Actions, Laws and Treaties

1993 - Present


25 May 1993—International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) established

Atrocities committed during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia provided the impetus for the U.N. Security Council to set up the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 1993. On 27 February 2001, Pavle Strugar was indicted for his role the attack on Dubrovnik, including the shelling of the Old Town. Although he pleaded not guilty to all charges, the Appeals Chamber upheld the Trial Chamber’s ruling that Strugar had the material ability to prevent the shelling of the Old Town of Dubrovnik and to punish his subordinates. Additionally, the Appeals Chamber upheld that Strugar did have reason to know early on the morning of the attack that the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) was about to commit crimes that he could have prevented. Strugar was sentenced to seven and a half years’ imprisonment on 17 July 2008 and was granted early release effective 20 February 2009.

Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 25 May 1993

More information on the ICTY »

Case Information Sheet on the indictment and trial of Pavle Strugar »



For eight months from October 1991 to June 1992, the Old Town of Dubrovnik was under siege by the Yugoslav People's Army. During that time more than 2,000 shells fell inside the walls of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

14 April 2000—Strasbourg Charter, requirements for the formation of national committees are set out

The following requirements to be met by national initiatives that wish to seek recognition as national Blue Shield committees:

1. Initiatives for establishing a national committee of the Blue Shield should fully recognise the CBS Charter as adopted by ICBS in Strasbourg, 14 April 2000:

In order to protect endangered cultural heritage, the International Committee of the Blue Shield was created in 1996 by the four non-governmental organisations, which represent professionals active in the fields of archives, libraries, monuments and sites, and museums.

In the framework of the Hague Convention (1954) for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, ICA (International Council on Archives), ICOM (International Council of Museums), ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), and

IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) have taken up the emblem of the Convention as symbol of the International Committee of the Blue Shield. These four founding members were joined in 2005 by CCAAA (Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations). The five organisations work together to prepare for, and respond to, emergency situations in case of armed conflict or natural disaster that could affect cultural heritage.

They respect the following principles:

(Approved by the International Committee of the Blue Shield at its meeting in Paris, 8 June 2001):

  • joint actions
  • independence
  • neutrality
  • professionalism
  • respect of cultural identity
  • work on a not-for-profit basis.

2. Initiatives for establishing a national committee of the Blue Shield should have the support of the national representatives of all four non-governmental organisations listed above, which together form the ICBS. In case of doubt, the bureaux of the four nongovernmental organisations will decide on the respective representational claims.

3. An appropriate representative of initiatives to establish a national committee of the Blue Shield should inform the ICBS of the membership, contact addresses, meeting schedules and agendas and relevant national events of the proposed national committee.

4. An appropriate person or organisation on behalf of initiatives to establish a national committee of the Blue Shield may request the ICBS to grant official recognition. The ICBS has the sole right to decide whether to accord such recognition.


Forming a new Blue Shield national committee »

ICBS Kit for Forming a New National Blue Shield Committee »

1 July 2002—International Criminal Court (ICC) established

A series of negotiations to establish a permanent international criminal court that would have jurisdiction over serious international crimes regardless of where they were committed led to the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in July 1998 in Rome. The Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after 60 countries became parties to it. It embodies the international community’s resolve to ensure that those who commit serious crimes do not go unpunished. The ICC is the first treaty-based, permanent international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern.

Statute of the International Criminal Court »


23-24 July 2004—Resolutions of the first Blue Shield International Meeting, held in Torino, Italy

One of the resolutions of the first Blue Shield International meeting of the Blue Shield in Torino, Italy stated that ICA, ICOM, ICOMOS and IFLA national members should create a National Committee of the Blue Shield, where such committees do not exist, and urge national authorities to support these committees’ roles and actions to protect movable and immovable cultural heritage in the event of natural or man‐made disasters.

12 February 2015—United Nations Security Council Adopts Resolution 2199

Among other things, Resolution 2199 calls for a ban on trade in cultural materials illegally removed from Syria after March 15, 2011.

Excerpt from United Nations website:

Cultural Heritage

“15.  Condemns the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria particularly by ISIL and ANF, whether such destruction is incidental or deliberate, including targeted destruction of religious sites and objects;

“16.  Notes with concern that ISIL, ANF and other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida, are generating income from engaging directly or indirectly in the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage items from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites in Iraq and Syria, which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks;

“17.  Reaffirms its decision in paragraph 7 of resolution 1483 (2003) and decides that all Member States shall take appropriate steps to prevent the trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, and religious importance illegally removed from Iraq since 6 August 1990 and from Syria since 15 March 2011, including by prohibiting cross-border trade in such items, thereby allowing for their eventual safe return to the Iraqi and Syrian people and calls upon the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Interpol, and other international organizations, as appropriate, to assist in the implementation of this paragraph;"

Read the full text of Resolution 2199 »