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What is Cultural Property Protection?

 

Cultural Property Protection (CPP) is a skill set that promotes greater operational awareness, strategic understanding and responsible management of the heritage landscape during military operations.

Implementing CPP practices and procedures helps U.S. forces meet its obligations under the The 1954 Hague Convention, the 1972 World Heritage Convention as well as U.S. and host nation laws and environmental standards that prohibit unnecessary damage to cultural, historical and religious sites and properties during military activities. Learning CPP practices and procedures enables U.S. forces to:

  1. improve situational awareness to prevent adversaries from using our respect for Historical and Cultural Property to gain a momentary tactical advantage;
  2. foresee, and thereby take steps to prevent, an adversary from damaging or destroying cherished monuments, cultural institutions, religious structures or symbols in order to demoralize the population or incite further conflict; if left unchecked, intentional cultural destruction by an opponent during combat or contingency operations can quickly lead to civil unrest, loss of trust in U.S. forces and, in extreme cases, the temporary collapse of civilian order;
  3. avoid damaging media attention that can result when archaeological, historical or religious sites are damaged during combat operations or post-conflict reconstruction; and
  4. demonstrate our respect for host nations, local populations and their institutions..

Click to download “Cultural Property Protection as a Force Multiplier in Stability Operations,” by CCHAG co-founder Laurie W. Rush, published in Military Review, March-April, 2012.

CPP serves as a force multiplier and an effective use of soft power that supports the military mission. For these reasons, CPP must become part of the skill set of all Combatant Command (COCOM) and Joint Force (JF) planners and engineers.

To increase awareness of CPP within DoD, CCHAG collects planning information, develops training materials and provides CPP products and services for COCOM and JF planners and engineers. These materials enable U.S. forces operating overseas to recognize and respond appropriately when they encounter heritage properties, cultural and archaeological sites, sacred places, historic monuments and landscape features that are important to local populations.

Click to sample the book Archaeology, Cultural Property, and the Military, edited by CCHAG co-founder Laurie Rush (Boydell & Brewer, 2010).

Click to sample the book Cultural Heritage in the Crosshairs: Protecting Cultural Property During Conflict, edited by Joris D. Kila and James A. Zeidler (Brill, 2013).