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Heritage in War Project

The destruction of cultural property in war zones is of pressing concern. The recent and on-going conflicts in the Middle East have featured both the deliberate, symbolic destruction of cultural artefacts and sites by ISIS, such as the destruction of the Temple of Bel, and the incidental damaging of such sites during combat, such as the damage to the site of Ancient Babylon by the US military. In response to ISIS’s campaign of devastation, in July 2015 the UK announced its intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The issues raised by cultural property protection are a huge challenge to just war theory in both its traditional and revisionist forms.

The project will shed light on the following key questions.

  1. Under what circumstances may belligerents intentionally or foreseeably damage sites of cultural property in war?
  2. How should the protection of cultural property be weighed against other priorities in conflict zones?
  3. How should relevant authorities regard and treat damaged sites of cultural property in the aftermath of war?

The project is funded by the AHRC and hosted jointly by The Open University and the University of Stockholm. The Open University lead is Professor Derek Matravers, and Dr Joshua Lewis Thomas is a Postdoctoral Fellow on the project.

More information can be found at the Heritage in War project website.