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.
On 28 May 2021, Blue Shield Austria held an Extraordinary General Assembly via Zoom including a review of the past board & its activities and concluded in the election of the new board: