Doc. 9868

9 July 2003

Protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Mr Ateş and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.       We know clearly from the experience of humankind that beyond seriously damaging economies and available resources, wars destroy, in an irreplaceable manner the common heritage of history, historical, religious and cultural heritages of nations and man.

2.       Aware of the bitter experiences throughout history, UNESCO opened to signature by its member states a Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and, regarding its execution, a Scope of Application of Convention and a Protocol at the Hague on 14 May 1954. Iraq in 1968 signed the Convention, its annexes and its parliament ratified those instruments respectively. Until today, 103 states have signed the Convention; the USA and the United Kingdom (UK) are among those who have not yet signed this Convention.

3.       The USA and UK, without waiting for the final decision in the on-going deliberations related to the disarmament of Iraq at the UN-Security Council, started in the night of 20th March 2003 with heavy bombardments the war without the support of international law and in the gaze of a bewildered international public opinion.

4.       The Coalition Forces during the war kept Ur, Uruk, Basra, Nasiriyah, Samarra, Kerbala, Baghdad, Tikrit, Kirkuk and Mosul under relentless aerial bombardment in a carpet-beating tactic.

5.       Iraq, where lie the oldest and most precious cultural assets of man’s history, is one of the very special regions of mankind. There are approximately ten thousand historic sites, and religious and cultural settlements. It is estimated that these are at least three to four times more unexcavated historical relics. Iraq possesses some the earliest settlements centers known to man.

6.       After the war we watched as looters ransacked and burned the Iraqi National Museum. War brings out the worst, the most primitive side of man. Iraqi museum officials reported 4000 missing works after the Gulf War in 1992. Only 20 were recovered by 1998. We don’t know yet how many valuable artifacts which were quickly spirited overseas this time.

7.       The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

      i. undertake the necessary initiatives and invite the United States und the United Kingdom, who made major contributions to the progress of contemporary civilization, to sign urgently the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict and to comply with all its provisions with due regard;

      ii. invite the authorities of Iraq to inform the Council of Europe, through UNESCO, the inventory of its cultural assets and, if available, the measures envisaged for their protection and equally invite the Coalition Forces to assist in the execution of the said plan under UNESCO and the Council of Europe supervision.

Signed 1:

Ateş, Turkey, SOC

de Zulueta, Italy, SOC

Elo, Finland, SOC

Fehr, Switzerland, LDR

Gross, Switzerland, SOC

Judd, United Kingdom, SOC

Mercan, Turkey, EPP/CD

Pangalos, Greece, SOC

Pericleous Papadopoulos, Cyprus, LDR

Yarygina, Russia, SOC


1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group