International Journal of Cultural Property



War and Cultural Property: The 1954 Hague Convention and the Status of U.S. Ratification


Chip  Colwell–Chanthaphonh a1 and John  Piper a1
a1 Indiana University, Bloomington

In May of 1954, the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention) was adopted in an attempt to curb the destruction of movable and immovable cultural property during war. Recent conflicts, such as the continuing war in the Balkans, remind us that the Hague Convention is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Although this Convention is the most comprehensive and internationally recognized treaty to protect cultural property in time of war, the United States remains one of the few signatories that has yet to ratify it. In January 1999, former President William J. Clinton forwarded the Hague Convention to the Senate with the recommendation that it ratify the Convention and part of Protocol I. Although this presented perhaps the first real opportunity in nearly half a century for the United States to join one hundred countries and ratify the Hague Convention, its fate remains uncertain. Generally oriented towards the United States' policy and practice, this article broadly discusses the Hague Convention, its history, its weaknesses and strengths, and the current status of U.S. ratification.



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