War and Cultural Heritage contains in a single volume an article by article commentary on the 1954 Hague Convention and its Two Protocols. The book also analyses other instruments of international humanitarian law relevant to the protection of cultural property. This includes the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols, which had a profound influence on the drafting of the 1954 Convention and the Second Protocol respectively. The book also examines the extent to which the provisions of the 1954 Convention and its Protocols are part of customary international humanitarian law. The book takes into account the latest developments regarding the international efforts to secure restitution of Holocaust-looted cultural property, including the work of the UK’s Spoliation Advisory Panel.
Since the publication of the first edition of War and Cultural Heritage in 2004 there have been a number of important developments. The Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict has entered into force and there are now 64 States Parties. The Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict provided for under the Second Protocol has been set up and has adopted the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Second Protocol. Disbursements have been made from the Fund for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. In 2008 the United Kingdom published for public consultation the draft Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill, the legislation to enable the United Kingdom to become a Party to the 1954 Convention and its two Protocols and in 2009 the United States ratified the 1954 Hague Convention (but neither of its two Protocols). The time to publish a second edition of War and Cultural Heritage to take account of these and other developments is long overdue.The civil war in Syria has resulted in extensive destruction of that nation’s cultural heritage. More recently in the conflict in Mali Islamist insurgents retreating from Timbuktu set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts, described by the town’s mayor as a "devastating blow" to world heritage. These incidents demonstrate the need for all parties engaged in armed conflict to have regard to the rules of international law concerning the protection of cultural property.