The 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict is to be adopted by Great Britain. The British Parliament is currently examining a bill to ratify this Convention.
There’s always a slight delay between the signing of a convention and its ratification, in other words, its implementation. In the case of the 1954 Hague Convention, Great Britain will have taken more than 60 years. 127 countries are signatories of this Convention that protects against the illegal traffic of cultural property in the context of war. The Cultural Property Bill will thus deem as a crime the sale of cultural property imported from a country that is at war or “occupied”. While the bill’s principles seem straightforward enough, it is nonetheless necessary to accurately define the notions of “occupied country” and “illegal export”.
This new legislation is expected to strengthen the monitoring of the circulation of artefacts illegally exported from a conflict-zone country. While existing British law already comprises a repressive element in this domain, there is no doubt that the new bill marks a new more decisive step in the current context.