CHAMP Colloquium at AIA Annual Meeting, 2016, San Francisco, CA



Saturday, 9 JAN 2016


Title: New Developments in Cultural Property Protection in Conflict Zones

Organizers: Dr. Nancy Wilkie, Dr. Laurie Rush, and Ms. Laura Childs

Discussant: Dr. Nancy Wilkie, Carleton University

This colloquium explores some of the new programs and processes developed to protect cultural property in conflict zones. The program scope is multi-national and multi-disciplinary in policy, methodology, and techniques. US Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS) is broadening its initiatives to aid military missions, including collaboration with AIA, CHAMP, and other organizations. The many, various international programs and processes to protect cultural property are explored for their scope, impact, and lessons learned. There are significant efforts to provide cultural property protection support to military commanders in the Middle East and Africa. The initiative to train college ROTC cadets about the importance of protecting cultural property is expanding significantly. The FBI Art Crimes Division is working with international organizations to counter the extensive illegal trafficking in looted antiquities. The Italian Army is collaborating with host nations to protect their national heritage. CyArk is collaborating with host nations to digitize their cultural heritage sites as part of the USAID’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

“The Role of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield in the Protection of Cultural Property”
Nancy C. Wilkie
William H. Laird Professor of Classics, Anthropology and the Liberal Arts, Emerita
President, US Committee of the Blue Shield
Carleton College
Northfield, MN

The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS) was founded in 2006 to support the implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. In addition to raising public awareness about the necessity to protect cultural property, USCBS has worked to train members of the military in all aspects of cultural property protection, whether in war or peace time. More recently, USCBS has begun to create cultural heritage inventories of archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and religious buildings in areas threatened by armed conflict so that they can be avoided in the event of military action by the US military its allies. In order to further this goal, USCBS has entered into Memoranda of Understanding with the Archaeological Institute of America (2015) and the Smithsonian Institution (2014), and it is currently in discussion with other cultural heritage organizations in the U.S. to form similar alliances.

“International Military Cooperation for Cultural Property Protection”

Dr. Laurie Rush
Ft Drum Cultural Resource Manager

Sometimes the most important progress in the world of cultural property protection takes place behind the scenes. Over the past three years, a small group of academic and military experts have been working together to establish cultural property protection policy, doctrine, and guidance that can be applied to military coalitions and alliances as well as coordinated peace keeping efforts. Beginning with the principles and signatories of the 1954 Hague Convention, these efforts include drafting of complex documents and diplomatic efforts to have the commitments these documents represent institutionalized and implemented by ministries of defense across the world. This presentation will discuss the importance of this type of work and implications for the future if these efforts are successful.

“Current Cultural Property Protection Support for the US Combatant Commands”

James A. Zeidler, Ph.D., RPA
Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML)
Colorado State University

The Combatant Command Cultural Heritage Action Group (MilCHAG) was established in 2009 as an ad hoc organization of academic professionals, NGOs, DoD civilians, and other interested parties to promote Cultural Property Protection (CPP) awareness within the various DoD Combatant Commands (COCOMs) deployed around the world. This effort has taken the form of CPP training curricula and related educational products as well as technical support in areas such as geospatial data gathering on important cultural heritage sites in conflict areas to ensure that US military forces do not unwittingly damage these resources. This paper addresses two current areas of technical support (a) to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in the development of advanced CPP training modules for military legal staff, military engineers, and military intelligence staff, and (b) to US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and US Army Africa in the development of geospatial quality assurance protocols for cultural heritage data collection. Emphasis is placed on the need for this kind of support in full spectrum operations, not just instances of conflict.


“Antiquities Trafficking as Organized Crime: Model and Implementation”

Bonnie Magness-Gardiner
FBI Art Crime Team

The FBI Art Crime Team was established in 2004 and launched in 2005 with eight Special Agents, a program manager, and an analyst in response to the looting of the Baghdad Museum. Designed to address an immediate and severe problem, the team evolved over the years to investigate interstate transportation of stolen property, museum theft, and wire fraud/mail fraud involving works of art. In addition, we have investigated trafficking in Native American artifacts under Archaeological Resource Protection Act and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act jurisdiction. Working with law enforcement partners in the US and overseas, in recent years the FBI has developed a model that looks at antiquities trafficking as organized crime. Identification of nodes of activities within the overall movement of archaeological items from the ground to the market allows us to focus our efforts strategically in pursuing specific investigations.

“3D Recording for Inventory and Archive of At-Risk Cultural Heritage Sites”

Dr. Elizabeth Lee
President, CyArk, Inc.

3D digital recording has in important role to play in inventory and archive of at-risk cultural heritage sites. CyArk is a nonprofit with the mission of digitally preserving, by way of 3D digital documentation and archiving, at-risk cultural heritage sites for the purposes of conservation, education, and public awareness. In 2013, CyArk launched the 500 Challenge – an initiative to digitally preserve 500 at-risk and culturally significant sites in five years’ time. In order to achieve this goal and scale digital preservation, CyArk partners with universities and governments around the world to build capacity and engage the local stakeholders in the digital documentation of their own cultural heritage. Learn about this initiative through CyArk’s discussion of a recent project in Pakistan, supported by USAID’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. <>

“Cultural Communication, identity and peacekeeping ñ how to engage cultural heritage in conflict zones”

Dr. Elena Croci

Nowadays, there are a number of organisations dedicated to protection and conservation of cultural heritage in conflict zones.

Monuments stand as memory of Human History, especially in those regions that saw the origin of our civilization: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan. In these places conflict originates also in the fragility of identities. As a consequence, monuments that represent our millenary history, reminding us the deep roots of our DNA are incessantly destroyed.

From Afghanistan to Libya, often with the collaboration of the Italian Army, a number of projects of Cultural Communication were set in motion to address these issues. Starting from the preservation of cultural heritage, these projects have sent messages to the local population and have fostered concrete actions dedicated to the creation of a renewed sense of belonging for the remote historical past.

This paper will illustrate how, starting from a first phase of observation and study of the area, the primary goal of each project has always been the restoration of the awareness of the artistic ability of humanity throughout our millenary history. It will also describe the communication strategies and techniques that, focusing on educational programs, which have the ability to promote a sense of pride and belonging in terms of regional identity, as well as stimulating individual and collective confidence, all crucials elements for successful peacekeeping operations.



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