News – USCBS and AIA Statement on Ukraine

March 3, 2022

Cultural heritage organizations urge governments to respect the Hague Convention and international humanitarian law

As organizations committed to the protection of World Heritage, we condemn the loss of human life that has been inflicted in the conflict in Ukraine. We call on all parties to the conflict to respect the precepts of international humanitarian law, embodied in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, their Protocols and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its First Protocol . Above all, these instruments prohibit attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including hospitals, schools, places of worship and cultural property.

Ukraine has a rich cultural heritage. Its museums house artistic and cultural objects from antiquity, the Byzantine and medieval periods, and the 17and century to the present day. The collections include Ukrainian works of art, folk art, ethnographic materials and rare religious icons, as well as works of art from all over Europe. Ukraine is also home to vast and valuable archive and library collections. The National History Museum alone has more than 800,000 objects, including archaeological artifacts of Scythian art, Viking-era weapons from Kievan Rus, numismatic collections, historical manuscripts, paintings and relics democratic and social revolutions of the 20th century. Inscribed on the World Heritage List for their Outstanding Universal Value are six cultural sites in Ukraine and one transnational natural site, which spans eighteen European countries; seventeen other sites are on the tentative list. Ukraine is particularly known for its churches, monasteries and other religious sites; its archaeological heritage extends from the Neolithic period to the Scythians and to Greek, Roman and Byzantine remains.

The 1954 Hague Convention, to which Russia and Ukraine are parties, prohibits the targeting of cultural sites, including museums, archaeological areas, libraries, archives, and religious and historical structures. However, the media report that museums have been attacked and that at least one museum has burned down with the loss of part of its collection. While condemning these actions during the conflict, we remind all parties that the removal of cultural objects from occupied territory is a violation of the First Protocol of the Hague Convention. We also call on cultural institutions and art market players to be particularly scrupulous in their dealings, including museum loans, with any cultural object that may have been illegally removed from Ukraine during occupation or conflict armed, including Orthodox icons and archaeological artifacts which are the types of items known to be trafficked.

The Archaeological Institute of America
The Archaeological Institute of America promotes archaeological research and public understanding of the material record of the human past to foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and our common humanity. Founded in 1879, the AIA has more than 200,000 members and more than 100 local societies in the United States, Canada and abroad.

American Institute for Conservation
The American Institute for Conservation is the premier membership association for current and future conservators and allied professionals who preserve cultural heritage. Representing over 3,500 people in more than forty countries around the world working in the fields of science, art and history through processing, research, collections care, education, etc., they all have the same goal: to preserve our cultural heritage so that we can learn from it today and appreciate it in the future.

American Research Institute in Turkey

American Overseas Research Society
The American Society of Overseas Research, founded in 1900, is an international organization of archaeologists, historians, linguists, and cultural heritage professionals who initiate, encourage, and support research and public understanding of cultures and history of the Near East and wider Mediterranean.

Arkansas Archaeological Survey
The mission of the Arkansas Archeological Survey is to study and protect the state’s archaeological sites, to preserve and manage the sites’ information and collections, and to communicate what we learn to the public. The survey has long been a model for statewide archaeological programs in the United States and around the world.

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries
The Association of Academic Museums and Galleries is the leading educational and professional organization for academic museums, galleries and collections. In recognition of the unique opportunities and challenges of its members, the AAMG establishes and supports best practices, educational activities and professional development that enable its member organizations to fulfill their educational missions.

Association of Art Museum Directors
The Association of Art Museum Directors advances the profession by cultivating the leadership capabilities of directors, advocating for the field, and fostering excellence in art museums. An agile and problem-oriented organization, AAMD has three desired outcomes: engagement, leadership and shared learning. Further information on AAMD’s professional practice guidelines and position papers can be found at

American Archeological Society
The SAA is an international organization which, since its founding in 1934, has been dedicated to the research, interpretation and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas. With nearly 7,000 members, the SAA represents professional and amateur archaeologists, archeology students in colleges and universities, and archaeologists working in tribal agencies, museums, government agencies, and the private sector. SAA has members across the United States, as well as in many countries around the world.

Historical Archeology Society
Established in 1967, the Society for Historical Archeology (SHA) is the largest scientific group concerned with the archeology of the modern world (AD 1400-present). The main focus of the company is the era since the beginning of European exploration. SHA promotes scientific research and the dissemination of knowledge concerning historical archaeology.

American Committee of the Blue Shield
The American Committee of the Blue Shield is dedicated to preventing the destruction and theft of cultural property during armed conflicts and natural disasters around the world. The name, Blue Shield, comes from the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which specifies a blue shield as a symbol to mark protected cultural property. USCBS is a national committee affiliated with Blue Shield (International).

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