The blue shield distinctive emblem is a protective symbol used during armed conflicts. Its use is regulated at all times by national law, international humanitarian law, and customary law, through the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and its Second Protocol of 1999.
“Having a consistent tool that prepares responders for crisis is very important. The blue shield is an internationally recognised emblem that identifies important objects that should be protected in a conflict – those preparations can also help in disaster and crisis. Blue Shield was delighted to support this initiative – sometimes it’s the smallest practical tools that can make a big difference”.
– Blue Shield International
The tag was developed in coordination with the Austrian Emergency-Platform for Museums and Libraries and the Historical Monuments Office under the conditions of the Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association. It will be used in all museums in Austria: many regional responders have already undergone training and exercises.
The website also provides guidance for prioritizing collections and for evacuating them safely.
“Too often our heritage is lost because we simply weren’t prepared. We encourage anyone responsible for any type of collections to think about emergency response. Once there is a crisis, it’s far too late. Only by being proactive in peacetime, by prioritising collections, and training with emergency responders, can we protect the items we hold in trust. As those who wrote the 1954 Hague Convention knew, “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; [so …] the preservation of the cultural heritage is of great importance”. I hope this tool helps protect collections into the future”.
– Dr Emma Cunliffe, co-editor of Safeguarding in the 1954 Hague Convention: All Possible Steps?
[Boydell Press, 2022]
Source: Blue Shield International
Get the details on the ICOM Austria website
Anna Puhr, Blue Shield Austria General Secretary, attended the 30th anniversary conference of the German Society for the Protection of Cultural Property (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kulturgutschutz e.V.) under the motto "From Looking Back to Looking Forward" taking place 25-27 August 2023 in the old town hall of Grimma.
The program consisted of a series of commemorative lectures looking back at the founding period of the German Society for the Protection of Cultural Property, lecture blocks by German, Swiss and Austrian colleagues, a panel discussion and a tour along the flood protection facility in Grimma, which has been fully constructed since 2022. Alongside Blue Shield Germany, Anna Puhr reported on the work of Blue Shield Austria and the contribution to the protection of cultural property from the Austrian perspective.
Blue Shield Austria congratulates on the 30th anniversary of German Society for the Protection of Cultural Property and looks forward to the future cooperation!
++ Detailed information on the anniversary ++
Photos: Alexander Gatzsche / DGKS e.V.
At the event with the motto "Help each other, appreciate each other!" on 12 and 13 June 2023, more than 30 archivists gathered to delve into the current state and future perspectives of archival cooperation.The two days in Vienna were highly informative, provided interesting professional insights and also offered enough space for personal exchange.
Order archives and cultural heritage protection
Friedrich Schipper provided an additional perspective on archives of religious orders. The fact that archives are not immune to being destroyed by wars or catastrophes was vividly demonstrated by him with several examples, including the current Ukraine War, the Beirut Blast 2020 and the flood in Prague in 2002. He further highlighted that the international community has defined standards under international law, which were adopted within the framework of UNESCO and converted into domestic law by the Austrian Parliament. Particular importance was also attached to the "Blue Shield" network which aims to place cultural property under an imaginary protective shield in the event of armed conflicts.
The next annual conference of ARGE Order Archives will take place from 8 to 10 April 2024 together with ARGE Order Archives of Germany. The venue will be Schloss Fürstenried in Munich.
++ More information ++
On Wednesday 31 May, the Blue Shield held its General Assembly, and elected a new Board:
From the National Committees,
The founding four organisation have nominated the following representatives:
Ömer Dabanli and Gerrit deBruin were re-elected to the auditing committee.
++ More information ++
The Board of Blue Shield Austria particpated at the hybride, high-profile conference “Cultural Heritage Crime: In Wartime and Beyond” organized by the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine on 18-19 May in Lviv. The event brought together renowned international experts on cultural property protection and representatives from the Ukrainian and European Union state authorities, law enforcement and rule of law agencies as well as museums and cultural institutions. Jointly they discussed the best models of cooperation in recovering the losses inflicted by the Russian aggression on the cultural heritage objects of Ukraine and investigating respective crimes.
In this context, participants considered the legal framework, operational approaches and international and local response to cultural heritage crime, highlighting the importance of cooperation, coordinated efforts and information exchange at national/international levels.
Blue Shield expert Dr. Michael Delacruz provided a speech on the challenges to implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention in Ukraine. The source for the presentation was an assessment report of the Missions of the Blue Shield to Ukraine from November 2022 to January 2023. The aim of the Assessment report was to collect the facts of possible violations of international law (1954 Hague Convention and specific of the deliberate destruction, damage, or theft of cultural heritage.
++ Source & Photos: EUAM Ukraine ++
The federal body of the jewelry, watch, art, antiques and stamp trade of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber invited Blue Shield Austria to contribute to its art trade magazine " Arts & Time" which is sent twice a year to all Austrian art dealers, galleries and antique dealers.
In the magazine Anna Puhr, Blue Shield Austria Deputy General Secretary, highlights that events like the destruction of the Temple of Baal in Palmyra, the Beirut harbor explosion, museum looting in Ukraine, or earthquakes in Turkey draw global attention due to their shared impact: the loss or damage of cultural heritage.
On 10th March, Deputy Secretary-General Anna Puhr gave a lecture for the Archaeological Research Network (AFIN) in Innsbruck.
The non-profit association "Archaeological Research Network Innsbruck (AFIN)" aims to promote awareness and understanding of cultural heritage through archaeological research. They focus on public relations and cultural mediation to disseminate research findings, generate interest in archaeology, and involve society in preserving our shared cultural heritage. Their efforts span the Alpine region, emphasizing collaboration without spatial or temporal limitations. AFIN operates as a network for archaeological research, supporting scientific projects and providing archaeological services.
In the lecture Anna Puhr shared insights into the work of the Blue Shield Movement with examples from BS Austria and Lebanon to present the Blue Shield network and raise awareness of the importance of cultural heritage protection in times of crises and conflict. The lecture was followed by a social dinner and lively exchange on the topic.
++ More information on AFIN ++
Professor Peter Stone, President of the Blue Shield Movement, takes a look back over the challenges and achievements of the last year. Conflicts, disaster, and the effects of Covid-19 continue to take a toll, but we can also see the inspiring work of the members of the Blue Shield around the world, who continue their work to protect heritage in conflict and disaster!
Have a look at the review here.
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 and Leylya Strobl 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 Weltmuseum 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