Konference om beskyttelse af den fælles kulturarv i tilfælde af krig

Kulturminister Mette Bocks tale ved konference om Haagerkonventionens 2. protokol om beskyttelse af den fælles kulturarv i tilfælde af krig

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Thank you for the welcome, Søren.

Dear guests. Dear friends.

I have been looking forward to this opportunity to thank you for your work.

You have been the persistent watch dogs that have ensured that Denmark will soon be ready to sign the second protocol of the Hague-Convention on the protection of Cultural Property.

This means that Denmark will meet its obligations, not only to the convention – but to the global community.

It is very important to me, to the government, indeed to all the political parties – that Denmark is an active part of the international efforts to improve the protection of cultural property.

Especially in the event of armed conflict.

Now, cultural property is a bit of a weird word.

Because what we mean is our cultural heritage. Those temples, churches, works of art, statues, bridges and indeed whole cities that form not only our national culture, but indeed the cultural heritage of all humanity.

Those relics and places form the back bone of our identities. They express the values that we share and live by. Our cultural heritage is the symbol of who we are. What we are.

Unfortunately, this also makes them an easy target in war or terrorism.

If you destroy a people’s identity, you destroy the people. If you destroy the symbols of the past, you erase it. But then you also destroy something that has immense value for all of us.

A joined international effort to protect cultural property has to do with mutual respect. It has to do with the identity and values of all nations, of all peoples.

The world has always witnessed wars and unrest.

Today, however, a still larger number of armed conflicts are of a non-international character, where even horrific acts of terrorism have become a daily feature.

This type of conflict has increased the need to take further action towards protecting our cultural heritage.

The best way to ensure this is a strong international community working together. The second protocol to the Hague-Convention is a political platform towards this end.

It has taken us a while for Denmark to implement the second protocol. The subject-matter is legally complicated and it has involved the close cooperation of four ministries. But now, we are almost there.

In twelve days we will submit the bill to Parliament.

The terms of the second protocol are demanding and constitute a substantial enhancement of the convention.

It will have significant effects on the ability of Denmark to pursue the aims of the convention in the event of armed conflict. It means that Danish citizens will be affected and that the penalty for offences is severe. We even open up for the extradition of Danish citizens for legal process in other countries.

The various political parties have welcomed the bill. It is my ambition that it will be passed unanimously by Parliament.

When this happens it will also be thanks to all of you who are present here today.

It is important that the international community stands united in our efforts to strengthen the protection of cultural property world-wide.

And it is important that we send a signal to the world that our cultural values are worth protecting and fighting for.

And that we will not tolerate attacks on those values.

Period

Thank you for your attention.