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Swiss measures to protect cultural property

30-06-2004 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 854, by Rino Büchel

In this article the author sets out the precautionary measures adopted in Switzerland, in accordance with its treaty obligations to protect cultural property in the event of armed conflict. By giving the technical details of ensuring optimum protection for cultural property, the article may serve as a practical example of what is required in that regard of States party to the 1954 Hague Convention and its Protocols



In 1962 Switzerland ratified the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. It thereby undertook to guarantee optimum protection for all its valuable cultural property. Specific legislation drawn up in 1966 marked a decisive step forward: it stipulates the protective measures to be planned, encourages their implementation by means of grants, and designates competent authorities responsible for their enforcement. The Confederation bears the full costs in some spheres. Most of the measures required under Article 5 of the Second Protocol are already in place in Switzerland; a Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional importance has been prepared, as have documentary and microfilm records, and shelters have been provided for the storage of cultural property. Staff have been trained, the general public has been informed and cooperation has been set up with institutions and partners such as the fire brigades.

In Switzerland the protection of cultural property is a responsibility shared by the Confederation, the cantons and the communes, but also by cultural institutions, specialized bodies and private persons


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