One of the main objectives of the Chair is to establish an effective advisory body to UNESCO on heritage protection during conflict. In order to effect the necessary perspective change towards heritage protection, Peter and his team have worked to develop close relations with both national and multinational armed forces, including NATO. They also work with the humanitarian sector in order to encourage the idea that the protection of people cannot be achieved effectively without protecting their heritage as well.
In 2016/17 Peter advised Ministers, Members of both Houses of Parliament, and civil servants on new internal legislation to enable the UK to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and both its Protocols of 1954 and 1999. The Hague Convention is the primary piece of international humanitarian law relating to protecting heritage during conflict and so this was a monumental achievement.
“The chair is heavily involved in supporting the development of the international NGO the Blue Shield, an advisory body to UNESCO on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. Highlights of this work have included Blue Shield signing agreements with both NATO and the International Committee of the Red Cross – both huge steps forward acknowledging the importance of protection heritage during armed conflict.
ABOUT THE CHAIR’S RESEARCH
Peter has published widely on heritage management, interpretation and education; however the majority of his current research relates to the protection of cultural property during armed conflict. Having realised over fifteen years ago that changes needed to be made to the Ministry of Defence’s approach to cultural heritage, Peter began researching further into the pitfalls and potential solutions to global heritage preservation.
It became apparent, that for heritage to be protected by the government and military, it would have to be understood as a political and military issue. Not just for its own inherent value, but because it was valuable to them for their own reasons. Peter subsequently formulated a “Four Tier Approach in the Protection of Cultural Property” for the journal the British Army Review, leading directly to the establishment of the UK’s Joint Service Military CPP Unit which should become fully operational in 2021. His findings have also provided the core academic basis for Blue Shield International’s strategy.