A Target: Preservation and Heritage Identities in Times of Conflict

Zaki Aslan (ICCROM, United Arab Emirates); Friedrich T. Schipper (University of Vienna)


The purpose of the theme “Archaeology as a Target” is to establish a working framework to guide national policies for heritage protection in times of crisis in relation to planning, infrastructure, law and public awareness. It will present relevant case studies arising from threats and damage caused through war, intolerance, civil unrest, theft, and illicit traffic of cultural artefacts. It will seek to understand how the impacts of these threats on archaeological heritage might be minimized.

As a result of the recent social as well as political upheavals in several countries world-wide, archaeological heritage has been negatively impacted. This theme therefore aims to assess:

a) How has archaeological heritage been damaged?
b) What weaknesses in the current heritage protection systems were identified during crisis events?
c) What measures can be taken to recover damaged archaeological heritage?
d) What role can cultural heritage play in recovery, reconciliation and nation building processes?

It is hoped that experiences from other parts of the world will contribute to refining methodologies with regards to the protection of archaeological heritage in times of crisis.

It is hoped that sessions will discuss how to make these recommendations available to policy and decision-makers, in order to promote the application of methods and guidelines in this area in future national policies.


Blue Shield: Protecting heritage sites in armed conflict and natural disaster

Friedrich T. Schipper (University of Vienna); Karl von Habsburg-Lothringen (University of Vienna); Joris Kila(University of Vienna)


The Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. On the one hand it is the protective emblem specified in the 1954 Hague Convention (Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict) for marking cultural sites to give them protection from abuse or attack in the event of armed conflict. On the other hand it is a network that consists of organizations dealing with the protection with museums, archives, audiovisual supports, libraries, as well as monuments and sites in case of armed conflict and natural as well as man-made disaster. The proposed session will explain and discuss the mission and work of Blue Shield and its inter-relation with other organizations, it will follow up on Blue Shield missions in particular in Egypt and Libya in the context of the Arab Spring as well as possible future missions in the region and it will finally discuss the perspectives of setting up Blue Shield national committees in the region in order to foster Blue Shield’s mission and to allow expanding the Blue Shield network in the Near East.


Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Conflict Resolution: Opportunities and Obstacles

Brooke L. Rogers (University of Queensland); Patrizia La Piscopia (University College Dublin)


This session provides a platform for interdisciplinary discussion and debate on the role that archaeology and cultural heritage can play in conflict prevention, transformation, resolution and peacebuilding. Peace scholars such as John Paul Lederach argue that bridging the chasm between communities in conflict necessitates recognising that “The greatest resource for sustaining peace in the long term is always rooted in the local people and their culture” (1997: 94). This session seeks to unearth innovative ideas and approaches that can encourage and facilitate positive rapprochement between parties engaged in conflict. At the same time, this session also seeks to provide space for a dialogue pertaining to the obstacles and challenges faced by archaeologists, heritage practitioners and peace and conflict resolution professionals when dealing with heritage and history in the context of conflict. Such considerations are important to ensure that academic discourse and praxis is based on a responsive and responsible attitude that engages with the complex reality of often entrenched and protracted armed conflicts. This session welcomes multiple and diverse perspectives from a range of disciplines including, but not limited to, cultural heritage management, archaeology, history, anthropology, politics and international relations, and development studies.


Where to go from here?

Abdullah Halawa (ICCROM, United Arab Emirates); Aparna Tandon (ICCROM, United Arab Emirates); Zaki Aslan(ICCROM, United Arab Emirates)


Cultural Heritage in parts of the Arab Region has continued to suffer from recent events taking place in this part of the world. These events revealed the fragility of heritage and the need for emergency measures to be applied in times of instability. The wide-spread looting, destruction and illicit trafficking of cultural heritage assets and the inability of respective institutions to protect the rich cultural heritage in several instances has risen the need for devising guidelines and/or action plans, in particular contexts, to face these challenges. While these challenges will be addressed in sessions under this WAC Theme ( Archaeology as a Target: Conservation and Heritage Identities in Times of Conflict ), there is a need to respond to emerging requirements.

This workshop session will be a platform for dialogue and discussion. It aims to formulate an action plan focusing initially on key questions identified for this WAC theme, and would expand to cover additional points presented in the course of the workshop. This workshop session welcomes the participation of experts facing relevant challenges reflecting on realistic solutions, with particular focus on the role of cultural heritage in reconciliation and conflict resolution.


The protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict and civil-military cooperation: lessons learned from a civil perspective

Friedrich T. Schipper, (University of Vienna, Austria); Patty Gerstenblith, (DePaul University, U.S.A.)


Following up on the heated debates on archaeology and war at the WAC-6 at UCD and the experiences in the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict and civil-military cooperation since then (e.g. the WAC IC Ramallah and Vienna) the renewed session at WAC-7 in Amman is intended to overcome the divide in the scientific community and create an accepted basis of constructive debate as well as to deal with the lessons learned from a civil perspective and to strive to develop future perspectives.