Peter Rebernik on Sun, 18 Apr 1999 20:53:36 +0200

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Syndicate: Fw: CULTURAL PROTECTION IN WAR - WAS: Kosovo's historic sites

Is there any other information on your side about the destruction of
national heritage?

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-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: Boylan P <P.Boylan@CITY.AC.UK>
Datum: Sonntag, 18. April 1999 19:34
Betreff: CULTURAL PROTECTION IN WAR - WAS: Kosovo's historic sites

>On Fri, 16 Apr 1999, Beltz, Jennifer wrote:
>> I have noticed several messages in recent days which refer to the
>> destruction of historic buildings and museums as a result of the ongoing
>> conflict in Kosovo.  If you haven't already done so, you may want to
>> to the April 15th Washington Post editorial by Rep. Rod Blagojevich which
>> calls for a diplomatic agreement that, among other things, would protect
>> many of Kosovo's sacred Orthodox cathedrals and historic places as
>I despair in the face of such ignorance on the part of law-makers and the
>press, since there ARE, of course, precisely such agreements!
>This principle has been part of US Army General Staff Orders since the
>Civil War, reinforced by the updating of these by Gen. Eisenhower
>in 1944 and the US adoption of the Treaty of Washington (Roerich Pact) of
>1935.  At the international level, the principle of protecting historic
>and religious monuments, museums, libraries and archives has been part of
>general and universal Customary Laws of War since the 1899 and 1907 Hague
>There has also been a specific cultural protection treaty provision since
>1954 - the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the
>Event of Armed Conflict (which also covers non-international conflicts).
>Though certain major powers including the USA and UK signed the 1954
>Hague Convention but then did not proceed with ratification due to "Cold
>War" considerations, both have always applied its provisions at the
>military operations level, and both are now actively seeking formal
>ratification. (In the US case, the instrument of ratification was sent by
>the President to the Senate for approval in January 1999 - something I
>would have expected a member of the House of Representatives specially
>interested in this area to have been aware of).
>A significant strengthening of the 1954 Hague Convention through an
>additional 2nd Protocol was prepared at a Diplomatic Conference in the
>The Hague again through the second half of March 1999, and will be
>formally signed by up to 85 States in The Hague on 17 May (and as one of
>the high points of a week of special events marking the centenary of the
>first Hague Peace Conference).
>It is well known that in the case of the Gulf War, in order to comply with
>relevant international law the coalition powers carried out extensive
>"desk" research, consultations with relevant experts and much special
>reconnaissance to identify significant cultural monuments and institutions.
>These were then placed "off limits" for both air attacks and the ground
>campaign that followed it. Even when the Iraqi authorities placed MIG
>aircraft within the walls of the ancient City of Ur, and anti-aircraft
>batteries on the walls of another, (negating their protection under
>international law) the Coalition refused to respond to attack these
>Though I have no seen any specific information on this point in relation
>to the current NATO campaign against Serbia yet, it seems to me virtually
>certain that parallel procedures and explicit orders will have been in
>place since long before the start of the air attacks on Yugoslavia.
>Incidentally, though Jennifer refers to reports of the "destruction" of
>monuments and museums in the Kosovo campaign, there do not seem to have
>been any authenticated evidence of direct attacks on or "destruction" of
>significant monuments or museums even in the Yugoslavs' own announcements
>and web site ( The nearest to this seems to be the
>late 1920s Danube bridge at Novi Sad (which may have been on the national
>monuments list as an engineering structure?). All the other reports seem
>to be of blast etc. damage (e.g. the extensive loss of the external glass
>walls of the Novi Sad Museum close to the bridge referred to above).
>This is not to say that there will not be much so-called "collateral"
>damage to historic monuments and other cultural buildings in the current
>military activities, but so far there seems to have been nothing in
>anyway comparable to the massive deliberate targeting, destruction and
>demolition of hundreds of monuments in e.g. the Eastern Slavonia and
>Konavle-Dubrovnik regions of Croatia in 1991-2 by the Yugoslav and
>Montenegran Armies, or in Bosnia in 1992-95 by both official and
>irregular forces of all three communities.
>Patrick Boylan

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