The passing of this legislation is seen by many as bringing to an end the failure of successive UK governments to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
The legislation creates two new offences in UK law: making cultural property the object of an attack; and dealing in cultural property that has been unlawfully exported from an occupied territory (including a provision for the seizure of such property and eventual return to a competent authority once the conflict is deemed over).
Historic England writes:
Duncan Wilson FSA, Chief Executive of Historic England, said HE was working with the government on plans for the Bill’s implementation. ‘The timing of this legislation’, he said, ‘is especially important given the recent appalling destruction of cultural property in Syria… The act is part of a new package of measures introduced by the government, which includes the creation of the Cultural Protection Fund and the development of a Military Cultural Property Protection Unit within the armed forces. These commitments send a strong message that the UK is determined to play a key part in protecting heritage worldwide.’
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