Ukraine is now able to protect its cultural values in the territories occupied by Russia
The formal process of joining this international document was completed on June 30, 2020, according to the Institute of Religious Freedom.
In the situation of the Russian Federation's temporary occupation of part of Ukraine, the provisions of this Protocol are essential in terms of applying specific actions to strengthen the protection of cultural heritage in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
According to the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to UNESCO, it is particularly relevant that Article 9 of this Protocol concerns the protection of cultural property in the occupied territories.
According to this article, a state that has occupied all or part of the territory of another country should not exercise:
- any illegal export, other illegal movement or illegal transfer of ownership of the cultural property;
- any archaeological excavations, unless it is required solely for the protection, recording or preservation of cultural property;
- any modification or change of the use of the cultural property that is intended to conceal or destroy cultural, historical or scientific evidence.
Also, according to this article, any archaeological excavation of cultural property in the occupied territory, its modification or change of its use shall be carried out, if circumstances permit, in close cooperation with the competent national authorities of the occupied territory.
The IFR notes that the accession to the Second Protocol provides not only additional opportunities for the protection of cultural heritage in the occupied Crimea but also pressure on the Russian Federation in the context of applying measures to initiate criminal liability for illegal actions by the occupying power.
Thus, according to article 15 of the Protocol, "Significant Violations of this Protocol" (Chapter 4. Criminal liability and jurisdiction) the actions below are considered an offence committed intentionally and ran contrary to the 1954 Convention and the Second Protocol:
- destruction or appropriation on a large scale of cultural property protected under the provisions of the Convention and this Protocol;
- committing theft, robbery or misappropriation or vandalism against cultural property protected under the provisions of the Convention.
In such cases, Ukraine may take such steps as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences under its national legislation the acts referred to in this article and to establish appropriate penalties for such offences.
Earlier, during 2016, the IRS initiated and held several informational seminars on the importance of Ukraine's accession to the Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention, emphasizing its relevance in the context of the armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine, as a result of Russian aggression.