Blue Shield Austria together with Roerich Pact Austria, Europahaus Burgenland, Forum Katholische Erwachsenenbildung, Katholisches Bildungswerk and Forum Martinus of the Diocese of Eisenstadt organized the lecture evening "PAX CULTURA“ on cultural heritage protection in times of crisis which took place on 7 December in Eisenstadt, Burgenland (eastern Austria).
General-Secretary Leylya Strobl gave insights at the current, devastating destruction of cultural property in the war against Ukraine and highlighted the importance of precautionary measures. The Austrian expertise in the protection of cultural property as well as the work of the Austrian Committee was presented by vice-president Peter Harold, president Karl Habsburg-Lothringen highlighted the international perspective and talked about the Blue Shield mission in Lebanon after the Beirut port explosion. Further speakers were Hans Göttel and Alexander M. Wessely.
The event marked the start of a focus on awareness activities in the federal states of Austria that will be continued in 2023.
The Blue Shield Austria Board 2022
WATch the lecture evening
Following the announcement of 28 June 2022, experts from 11 museums across Ukraine have collaborated with ICOM’s Heritage Protection Department to research and prepare this comprehensive Emergency Red List, which is composed of 53 type of objects pertaining to 7 categories that span archaeology, books and manuscripts, numismatics, and folk, religious, applied and fine art. The wide variety of objects represented highlights the rich, longstanding, and diverse cultural heritage in Ukraine – from the Scythians to the Avantgardes of the 20th century.
++ To the Emergency Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk – Ukraine ++
Blue Shield Austria hosted two roundtables at the 27th "Cultural Heritage and New Technologies Conference" that took place from 10-12 November in Vienna and was organized by the CHNT-ICOMOS Austria association and the City of Vienna.
Anna Puhr, Deputy General-Secretary and Blue Shield’s EU representative for Digital Cultural Heritage, organized the roundtable "A European Data Space for Cultural Heritage: Closing the Gap“ in order to open the discussion about the EU’s Recommendation of such a common data space. Amongst others, subjects were the Heritage Information System of the Austrian Federal Monuments Authority, merging GIS and BIM for Architectural Heritage, an integrated data framework for sustainable heritage management in dynamic landscapes as well as the ICOMOS Action Group ECHO.
Executive Vice-President Friedrich Schipper organized the roundtable "Cultural Property Protection: Currents in Law and Law Enforcement“ highlighting the role of police in CPP, the protection of cultural goods in Austria and the role of customs in CPP.
++ Find out more about the Conference ++
The UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Humanity was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972 and thus celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, in 2022. The international community is celebrating, all the more so as this Convention is considered UNESCO's most successful cultural convention.
Almost all of UNESCO's 196 Member States are also Parties to this Convention, and most of these States Parties actually have listed World Heritage Sites. At the time of the round anniversary, on 16 November 2022, there were a total of 1,154 World Heritage Sites, of which 897 were Cultural Heritage Sites, 218 Natural Heritage Sites and 39 Mixed World Heritage Sites. And 43 World Heritage sites are transboundary or transnational World Heritage. At the same time, unfortunately, 52 World Heritage sites are on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger, including the Old Town of Vienna.
On 18 December 1992, the Republic of Austria ratified the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and since then 12 sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. Most recently, in 2021, Baden near Vienna was inscribed in the transnational World Heritage Site "The Great Spa Cities of Europe" and Vienna/Vindobona, Carnuntum and 20 other ancient Roman sites were inscribed in the transnational World Heritage Site "Frontiers of the Roman Empire - Danube Limes".
The International Academy Berlin and the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany honoured the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention with an international and interdisciplinary project lasting more than two years, which first began with a series of think tanks, the results of which were summarised in a best-of conference and finally, just in time for the anniversary, presented in an open access anthology and presented at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.
The focus was on the future of the Convention on the one hand, and on the role of World Heritage in the context of conflicts and the potential of World Heritage for conflict resolution on the other. The coordination of the range of topics of World Heritage in War fell to Blue Shield and was led and moderated by Friedrich Schipper in his function as gf. vice president of the Austrian National Committee Blue Shield as well as military expert for cultural property protection at the Theresian Military Academy.
++ Project Information ++
++ Direct link to the anthology ++
The information event on the protection of cultural property took place on 27 September 2022 in Graz. It was organised by the Operational Command Division, the Centre for People-Oriented Leadership and Defence Policy, the Vienna National Defence Academy and the Austrian Society for the Protection of Cultural Property. The event was supported by SANLAS Holding GmbH.
All cultural property protection officers appointed in Austria were present. Karl Habsburg Lorraine and Leylya Strobl, the representative of Blue Shield Austria, were invited as speakers. They gave presentations and shared their expertise on the war in Ukraine and its impact at the European and global level, as well as on the extent of the destruction of cultural property that has taken place since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.
On 14 June, a Blue Shield Austria General Assembly was held to welcome new members and provide an update on Blue Shield International, Blue Shield Austria as well as the ongoing BSA strategy development.
In addition, at the request of Dr. Irmengard Mayer (ICOMOS Austria), em.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Peter Waldhäusl was awarded honorary membership for his extraordinary services to the protection of cultural property.
Blue Shield Austria thanks em.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Peter Waldhäusl for his decades of support and valuable expertise!
On 14th June 2022, the Blue Shield hosted its 2022 online General Assembly from the BSI's registered address in the National Archives in the Netherlands. We were delighted to welcome representatives from all our Blue Shield National Committees, Committees under Construction and the Founding Four organisations. Attendees from numerous countries around the world were able to attend the online meeting, hosted via Zoom.
WATCH THE ASSEMBLY
On 24 May, Blue Shield Austria invited to an information event about the war in Ukraine, its consequences for the country, its people and their cultural heritage at the Villa Hartenau in Graz.
The event took place at the invitation of SANLAS Holding GmbH and with the support of the Austrian Society for the Protection of Cultural Property.
Find out more how Blue Shield supports Ukraine.
The “Culture in Conflict: South Caucasus Today” conference took place from 13-14 May at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien focusing on the protection and preservation of Artsakh's Armenian cultural heritage.
Prior to the conference, an exhibition entitled "Culture in Conflict: Artsakh Armenian Cultural Heritage" was on display in Salzburg from 11-14 May, during which the book Artsakh Spiritual and Cultural Heritage was presented. The book was published on the initiative of the Artsakh Office for Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of Etchmiadzin Mother See. Blue Shield Austria Member Jasmin Dum-Tragut is the head of the office’s Austrian branch.
The conference was organised by the University of Salzburg, the Austrian Committee of the Blue Shield, the Vienna Museum of Historical Arts and the Etchmiadzin Mother See's Office for the Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of Artsakh.
On 15 March 2022 the European Commission/DG CONNECT invited Blue Shield International with other pan-European and international organisations active or interested in digital cultural heritage to an update on important policy developments and for exchanging views about the future in the light of opportunities and challenges experienced in the rapidly changing environment of the past two years. Anna Puhr of Blue Shield Austria is the EU Cultural Heritage Blue Shield representative.
Organisations, including BSI, were invited to talk about post-pandemic/current crisis opportunities and challenges as well as their views and visions on the forthcoming European Data Space on cultural heritage. Participants included representatives from CLARIN ERIC, DARIAH-EU, European Museum Academy (EMA), Europa Nostra, Europeana, Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA), International Committee for Documentation (ICOM / CIDOC), International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Network of European Museum Organizations (NEMO) and Wikimedia Sverige, and Blue Shield International.
Commission’s Digital Compass for the "Path to the Digital Decade“ by 2030 © Euopean Commission
The Blue Shield is extremely concerned regarding the escalating conflict in Ukraine. We ask all those involved to obey all relevant international law and to protect the civilian population wherever and whenever possible. We stress in particular the responsibilities of all involved under the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols of 1954 and, where relevant, 1999.
The Blue Shield stands ready to assist anyone involved in the conflict to protect cultural property in Ukraine and to work towards an immediate end to the conflict.
President, The Blue Shield
Find out more how Blue Shield supports Ukraine.
On 14th and 15th December, Blue Shield International hosted their 25th anniversary conference, celebrating 25 years of protecting heritage in conflicts, disasters and crisis around the world, and looking forward to our aspirations for the future.
More about our Anniversary Conference.
watch the conference
The board members Dr. Friedrich Schipper and Leylya Strobl gave an online lecture on "Civil-military cooperation as an essential condition for effective protection of cultural property in times of emergencies" as part of a capacity building workshop for the Hague Convention of 1954.
The aim of the workshop was to strengthen national capacities to implement the Hague Convention of 1954 and its two protocols (1954 and 1999) and to strengthen the efficiency of cooperation between the various actors in the implementation of the above-mentioned standardizing instruments in Mongolia.
The event was supported by various institutions and agencies of Mongolia, including the Department of Culture and Art, the Implementation Agency of the Government of Mongolia, the National UNESCO Commission of Mongolia, the General Intelligence Service of Mongolia, the Institute for Strategic Studies, the National Police Department etc.
On the occasion of Monument Day, which is coordinated by the Federal Monuments Office and takes place every year on the last Sunday in September all over Austria, Blue Shield Austria organized a symposium that addressed the relevance of cultural heritage and the protection of cultural property on a national and international level. This took place at Castle of Grades which is a medieval castle whose history goes back into the Middle Ages. It has been carefully revitalized and made accessible to the public since 2015 by our board member Constantin and the extensive renovation work actually finished on Monument’s Day.
The program started with guided tours through the castle which included the visit of Austria’s oldest intact open fire kitchen, later there was actually a fire burning. In addition, a photo exhibition by the Austrian-Lebanese photographer Tanya Traboulsi took place showing the complex and restless relationship to terms such as “home” and „memory“ that has influenced Tanyas photographic work over the years.
In the afternoon, Blue Shield Austria organized a symposium on cultural heritage that included topics such as the preservation of monuments, CPP in the military sector, the threatened culture in Armenia as well as an overview of Blue Shield’s international missions.
The event ended with a final reception in the castle's courtyard.
General-Secretary Ms. Leylya Strobl and BSA member Jasmine Dum-Tragut, took part in the conference on international religious freedom and peace that was organized by the Holy See in Etschmiadzin. The topics of the conference included access to places of worship in conflict areas, the protection of religious and ethnic minorities, and the preservation of cultural heritage. The conference also discussed the recent conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), an area in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the international status of which remains unresolved. The speakers reported on numerous incidents of desecration of churches and monasteries and the destruction of religious and cultural sites. Another meeting with representatives of BS Austria takes place in the Museum of Genocide in Yerevan. The result of the meeting was the decision to set up an Armenian Committee for the Blue Shield.
BSA President Habsburg spoke on 7 September 2021 in the Kardinal-Schwarzenberg-Haus in Salzburg about his travel experience in the Tur Abdin. From 28 August to 3 September 2020, he visited the historical churches and monasteries of Syro-Aramaic Christianity in southeastern Turkey.
In the public event "Responsibility of the World Church and World Community for the Christian Heritage of Tur Abdin", the President emphasized the historicity of Tur Abdin as a world cultural heritage, which with the Aramaic language Jesus belongs to the origin of Christianity and should therefore be brought to the attention of the world community.
At the invitation of the Estonian Roerich Pact Committee and the Peace Banner, Karl von Habsburg took part in two seminars in Tallin and Tartu from 7 to 8 July 2021, which enabled a wide range of Estonian cultural heritage institutions, the military and public figures to share the experiences of the Blue Shield Organizations operating under the 1954 Hague mandate discover convention.
Blue Shield's latest know-how in this area was successfully tested during the rescue work after the explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020. As part of the seminar, information on the initial securing of cultural property, damage assessment and first aid as well as the effective exchange of information between all people involved in rescue operations was conveyed. The reason for this seminar was to share information and expertise as 12 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored in the port of Tallinn.
From 1 - 15 July, the annual summer academy took place across Austria, focusing on the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Vienna (with the old town and Schönbrunn Palace), Graz (with the old town and Eggenberg Palace) and Salzburg as well as World Heritage regions of Semmeringbahn, Wachau / Krems and Hallstatt / Dachstein - Salzkammergut.
On site, discussions took place with scientists, conservators, cultural managers, tourism experts, architects, politicians, entrepreneurs, and communication experts in order to gain insight into the complex structure of the preservation of cultural heritage, but also to identify the communication services required to meet the requirements of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention with regard to participation, city marketing and urban development.
On 30 June 2021, Blue Shield Austria organized an event on the occasion of the Blue Shield 25th Anniversary in the Maria-Theresien-Rittersaal of the military academy.
Under the title "Cultural Heritage in the Crossfire - 25 Years of the Blue Shield", the cooperation between the Austrian Armed Forces and the BSA was confirmed. In the presence of Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner, the foundation stone was laid for the possible development of a competence center for the protection of cultural property, and the head of the UNESCO headquarters in Paris was also connected digitally. Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner emphasizes that the protection of cultural property is also essential for international peace work. BSA President Habsburg reported on the activities of the last 25 years and focused on the future. Major General Karl Pronhagl shed light on the prospects for the Austrian Armed Forces. GS Friedrich Schipper presents the newly elected board of directors of Blue Shield Austria to the visitors.