The Blue Shield is an independent, neutral, non-governmental, non-profit, international organisation which strives to protect heritage during armed conflicts and disasters across the world.
They are “committed to the protection of the world’s cultural property, and is concerned with the protection of cultural and natural heritage, tangible and intangible, in the event of armed conflict, natural- or human-made disaster”.
(Articles of Association 2.1)
This includes all forms of cultural property including museums, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries and audio-visual material, and significant natural areas, as well as intangible heritage. The Blue Shield is an advisory body to UNESCO on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict with a legally granted mandate under the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
It was founded in 1996 by the four major international cultural heritage organisations:
- International Council on Archives (ICA)
- International Council of Museums (ICOM)
- International Federation of Library and Information Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
- International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
Today, the organisation is composed of national committees operating across the world, coordinated by the Blue Shield International Board. Both the Board, and most of the national committees, have ICA representatives working to ensure the protection of archives in conflict and disasters. The organisation’s key goals are to:
- protect tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage from the effects of conflict and environmental disaster;
- promote ratification, respect, and implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention and its Protocols;
- raise awareness of the importance of protecting cultural heritage in emergency situations;
- promote and provide relevant training for those preventing, mitigating, or responding to cultural heritage damage during conflict and disasters, and those involved in preventing the illicit trafficking of looted objects (including heritage professionals, the armed forces, other emergency responders, and those preventing illicit trafficking);
- promote widespread engagement with, and participation in, protecting cultural property; and
- encourage co-operation with, and between, those involved in emergency situations.
Visit the website: www.theblueshield.org