“committed to the protection of the world’s cultural property, and is concerned with the protection of cultural and natural heritage, tangible and intangible, in the event of armed conflict, natural- or human-made disaster.”
The name Blue Shield comes from the UNESCO 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which specifies a blue shield as the symbol for marking protected cultural property.
Blue Shield is also the name of an international committee set up in 1996 to work to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by disasters of all types. Blue Shield International and it’s affiliated national committees (such as Blue Shield Australia) work together internationally.
Blue Shield International brings together the knowledge, experience and international networks of the expert organisations dealing with cultural heritage: an unrivalled body of expertise which is available to advise and assist in responding to events such as the war in Iraq, the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, and earthquake damage in Haiti and Chile. Most recently, BSI is co-ordinating recovery of cultural institutions in Beirut. Blue Shield International is world-wide, independent and professional.
The ICBS (now Blue Shield International) was named in the Second Protocol of the Hague Convention (agreed in April 1999 by 84 countries) as a body advising UNESCO’s inter-governmental Committee for Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Blue Shield Australia is one of many national committees organised under the mission and objectives of Blue Shield International. BSA was established in 2005 with the approval and support of ICBS, as a federation of four non-governmental organisations (‘pillars’ or founding organisations), which represent professionals active in the fields of archives, libraries, monuments and sites, and museums. The BSA committee comprises representatives from the following Australian peak industry organisations:
- ICA: the International Council on Archives, represented in Australia by the Australian Society of Archivists
- ICOM: the International Council of Museums, represented in Australia by ICOM Australia
- ICOMOS: International Council on Monuments and Sites, represented in Australia by Australia ICOMOS
- IFLA: the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, represented in Australia by the Australian Library and Information Association
These four organisations work together to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergency situations in case of armed conflict or natural disasters that could affect Australia’s cultural heritage. Representatives from these organisations on the BSA Committee include salaried professionals and independent consultants whose work for BSA is not directly remunerated and is frequently undertaken outside paid hours (i.e. voluntarily).
Other Blue Shield Australia member organisations are:
- AICCM: The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage
- AMaGA: Australian Museums and Galleries Association
- FAHS: Federation of Australian History Societies
- PARBICA: Pacific Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives
BSA aims to raise awareness of the value of Australian cultural heritage and the need for its protection against threats of all kinds. In the past, a focus was on May Day. From 2020, BSA will be promoting the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction in October, urging cultural heritage organisations around Australia to focuses on disaster preparedness and response. This campaign on the 13th October each year and during the month of October encourages archives, galleries, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage sites across Australia to participate in at least one step to prepare for disaster preparedness and response.
Blue Shield Australia would like to gratefully acknowledge the invaluable contribution made by the Collections Council to the inauguration and development of Blue Shield Australia. The Collections Council provided a comprehensive secretariat service for Blue Shield Australia from 2005 to February 2010. Due to funding cuts the Collections Council was forced to wind up its operation in April 2010.
We also acknowledge the ongoing support of the committee and volunteers, and all who work in the GLAM industry whose ongoing efforts help to preserve our cultural heritage.