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UNESCO Declaration Concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage

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

Declaration adopted by the thirty-second session of the UNESCO General Conference, Paris, 17 October 2003.

The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) meeting in Paris at its thirty-second session in 2003,

Recalling the tragic destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan that affected the international community as a whole,

Expressing serious concern about the growing number of acts of intentional destruction of cultural heritage,

Referring to Article I(2)(c) of the Constitution of UNESCO that entrusts UNESCO with the task of maintaining, increasing and diffusing knowledge by “assuring the conservation and protection of the world’s inheritance of books, works of art and monuments of history and science, and recommending to the nations concerned the necessary international conventions”,

Recalling the principles of all UNESCO’s conventions, recommendations, declarations and charters for the protection of cultural heritage,

Mindful that cultural heritage is an important component of the cultural identity of communities, groups and individuals, and of social cohesion, so that its intentional destruction may have adverse consequences on human dignity and human rights,

Reiterating one of the fundamental principles of the Preamble of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict providing that “damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world”,

Recalling the principles concerning the pr otection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict established in the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions and, in particular, in Articles 27 and 56 of the Regulations of the 1907 Fourth Hague Convention, as well as other subsequent agreements,

Mindful of the development of rules of customary international law as also affirmed by the relevant case-law, related to the protection of cultural heritage in peacetime as well as in the event of armed conflict,

Also recalling Articles 8(2)(b)(ix) and 8(2)(e)(iv) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and, as appropriate, Article 3(d) of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, related to the intentional destruction of cultural heritage,

Reaffirming that issues not fully covered by the present Declaration and other international instruments concerning cultural heritage will continue to be governed by the principles of international law, the principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience.


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