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ICOM and the International Committee of the Blue Shield
The International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS)
Working for the Protection of the World's Cultural Heritage

The Blue Shield is the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. It is the symbol specified in the 1954 Hague Convention for marking cultural sites to give them protection from attack in the event of armed conflict. It is also the name of an international committee set up in 1996 to work to protect the world's cultural heritage threatened by wars and natural disasters.

The International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) covers museums and archives, libraries, and monuments and sites. It brings together the knowledge, experience and international networks of the four expert organisations dealing with cultural heritage : an unrivalled body of expertise which is now available to advise and assist in responding to events such as war in former Yugoslavia and hurricane damage in Central America. ICBS is international, independent and professional.

National Blue Shield Haitian Committee recognition - ENG - FRE - SPA

Blue Shield actions for safeguarding heritage in Haiti

Haiti Blue Shield Statement ENG -FRE - SPA

Cultural Heritage in Gaza damaged and in great danger

The Mission of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) is to work for the protection of the world's cultural heritage by co-ordinating preparations to meet and respond to emergency situations.

Its objectives are :

  • to facilitate international responses to threats or emergencies threatening cultural property
  • to encourage safeguarding and respect for cultural property especially by promoting risk preparedness
  • to train experts at national and regional level to prevent, control and recover from disasters
  • to act in an advisory capacity for the protection of endangered heritage
  • to consult and co-operate with other bodies including UNESCO, ICCROM and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICEC)

It achieves this by :

  • collecting and sharing information on threats to cultural property world-wide
  • raising public awareness about damage to cultural heritage
  • promoting good standards of risk management among those responsible for cultural heritage at all levels, from institutions to national governments
  • working to make decision makers and professional staffs aware of the need to develop prevention, preparedness, response and recovery measures
  • providing professional expertise to help meet emergencies
  • identifying resources for disaster prevention and for rapid intervention in emergencies
  • encouraging the establishment of national Blue Shield committees

The vital work of the ICBS was recognised in the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention agreed in April 1999 by 84 countries. This gives ICBS a new role, to advise the inter-governmental Committee for Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Local Blue Shield Action

It is vital that the international initiative is taken up and supported by local initiatives. Blue Shield Committees are being formed in a number of countries. They bring together the different professions, local and national government, the emergency services and the armed forces. They provide a forum for them to improve emergency preparedness by sharing experiences and exchanging information. They provide a focus for raising national awareness of the threats to cultural heritage. They promote the ratification and implementation by national governments of the Hague Convention.

ICBS is formed by four non-governmental organisations :

  • ICA
    International Council on Archives

    60, rue des Francs-Bourgeois 75003 Paris - France
    Tel.+ 33 (0)1 40 27 63 06 Fax: +33 (0)1 42 72 20 65
    Email: ica@ica.org
  • ICOM
    International Council of Museums

    Maison de l'UNESCO 1, rue Miollis 75732 Paris cedex 15 - France
    Tel.+ 33 (0)1 47 34 05 00 Fax: +33 (0)1 43 06 78 62
    Email: secretariat@icom.museum
    International Council on Monuments and Sites

    49-51, rue de la Fédération 75015 Paris - France
    Tel. +33 (0)1 45 67 67 70 Fax: +33 (0)1 45 66 06 22
    Email: secretariat@icomos.org
  • IFLA
    International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
    P.O. Box 95312 2509 CH The Hague - Netherlands
    Tel. +31 (0)70 31 40 884 Fax: +31 (0)70 38 34 827
    Email: ross.shimmon@ifla.org or marie-therese.varlamoff@bnf.fr


    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
    Division of Cultural Heritage
    1, rue Miollis 75732 Paris cedex 15 - France
    Tel. +33 (0)1 45683793 Fax: +33 (0)1 45685596
    Email: ins.culture@unesco.org or j.hladik@unesco.org
    has a working relationship with ICBS
    The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property
    Via di San Michele 13 00153 Rome - Italy
    Tel. +39 06 585531 Fax +39 06 58553349
    Email: iccrom@iccrom.org
    is an organisation with consultative status with ICBS

Updated: 16 June 2010