25 Years of Blue Shield

One of the strengths of the initiative of the Blue Shield is that although it is principally oriented toward the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict it does have an important role in mitigating and managing disasters …. I think that’s one of the aspects that makes it a truly international initiative and of universal appeal…. In moments of natural disaster the same need for cooperation exists and such cooperation results in the same benefits. – George McKenzie, Founder –  

OUR ANNIVERSARY  — What is the Blue Shield?
25 years ago, four international heritage organisations recognised the need for greater cooperation to protect cultural heritage at risk from conflict and disaster: the International Council on Archives (ICA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Together, on 6 June in 1996, they founded the
International Committee of the Blue Shield, with a vision for national committees across the world. Today simply called the Blue Shield, it is:
“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.” (Articles of Association 2.1 2016)
Often referred to as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross, the Blue Shield is a non-governmental, non-profit, international organisation, working to protect museums, galleries, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries and audio-visual material, and significant natural areas, as well as intangible heritage. It is composed of national committees operating across the world, coordinated by an International Board. Members include the founding organisations, governments, emergency services, armed forces, academics, and all those with responsibility for heritage protection in crisis.
We found our work in key international frameworks and law, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and in particular the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which designates our namesake – the distinctive blue shield emblem signifying cultural property protected in conflict. This landmark legislation was followed in 1999 by a Second Protocol, which recognises the Blue Shield as an official advisory body to the international Committee
for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (article 27.3).
This year we are celebrating our 25th anniversary. Blue Shield has 28 national committees and more beginning to be established. However, we are an almost entirely voluntary, including the National Committee members.  Blue Shield International is a largely unfunded organisation, supported primarily by Newcastle University in the UK. Despite that, we continue to grow. We have signed key agreements with the ICRC, NATO, and others, and are advocating for heritage protection at national and international levels.  As heritage continues to be threatened by crises around the world, the Blue Shield stands ready to assist.

Blue Shield Australia, established in 2005, is proud to be a long-standing ongoing National Committee of Blue Shield.  Thank you to all the volunteers who have contributed these past 25 years.

Flooding in Eastern Australia

22 March 2021.

While the 2020/2021 disaster season again saw fires and cyclones, the current large-scale flooding affecting many more communities across eastern Australia is becoming critical.              A State of Emergency has been announced for New South Wales.  Disaster Declarations and Emergency Evacuation Orders are updated by SES NSW and Evacuation Centres have been established.  Other up-to-date information is available from Resilience NSW, including advice on donations.   Queensland Flood advice is provided by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. If your gallery, library, archive, museum or local history site has been impacted by flooding, please contact Blue Shield Australia and your relevant BSA Member Association with your information.   Further news will be provided here in the coming days.

Flood Recovery Resources for those institutions and personal collections immediately impacted.

Disaster Planning Resources if you are not currently impacted.

Update – 4 April 2021 :   As the cleanup continues in communities across NSW there have been few impacts on GLAM sites directly.  A number of historical societies and monuments and sites were impacted and future assessments will be forthcoming.

During this Flood event in March 2021, Geoscience Australia and partner organisations put together a data hub with key location/geospatial datasets, including NSW flood footprints. The hub can be found at (https://nsw-flood-hub-emsina.hub.arcgis.com/)

International Course on Rethinking Disaster Risk Management for Cultural Heritage Collections

ICCROM in collaboration with ICOM are offering an International Course on Rethinking Disaster Risk Management for Cultural Heritage Collections. The course is targeted at professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, but some seats are reserved for international candidates.


  • Online Sessions delivered from ICCROM, Rome, Italy
  • In-person workshop: Escuela Taller De Filipinas Foundation Inc., Manila, Philippines

The deadline for applications has been extended to 1 November.

More information is available here.

The ICOMOS GA2020 Marker Event 7 October 2020

  The program is now available! 

Download the program outline now and start planning your schedule for Wednesday 7 October 2020 from 8.00pm AEDT (Sydney / Canberra), 11:00 am CEST (Paris), 5:00 am EDT (New York).

Are you stuck on what questions to submit to the panels? See the detailed theme descriptions for inspiration.

More on the themes

Let’s see the program


Book early for a chance to pre-submit questions for the panel discussions and to receive the latest program information.

The registration form is available in English, French and Spanish.

Advancing Risk Management for the Shared Future 17 October 2020

ICORP (ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness) is hosting.

BSA members are invited to join.  This is a free event.


The speakers will outline what the various ICOMOS international scientific committees are doing and provide an introduction to the 6-ISCs toolkit for Risk Management.

Key discussion topics include:


Discussion Forum and Q&A
1. Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Management and Resilience for Climate Change
2. Post-disaster management, re-construction, and authenticity
3. Heritage Risk Management in the Post-COVID-19 World

Disaster Preparedness and Our Cultural Heritage and Collections half day symposium

In recognition of the International Day for Disaster Reduction the State Library of South Australia will host a half day symposium on 14 October 2020.

The symposium will raise awareness of the role cultural heritage collections play in building community resilience. The symposium will offer advice on frameworks and grants to help you protect your heritage collections.

Book now.

Visions for the future of Aboriginal Heritage in Western Australia

The Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists (AACAI), the Anthropological Society of  Western Australia (ASWA) and Australia ICOMOS are hosting a one-day forum on ‘Visions for the future of Aboriginal Heritage in Western Australia’.

Date: Friday 16 October 2020
Time: 8am to 5pm (drinks and canapes afterwards until 7.30pm)
Venue: Esplanade Hotel, 46-54 Marine Terrace, Fremantle, Western Australia

Get tickets

Travel subsidies for First Australians based outside of Perth to partially offset the cost of getting to Fremantle are being offered. Amounts will vary depending on distance travelled and the total number of applicants. Travel subsidies can be requested through the Humanitix registration page. If you know of anyone who wants to take up this option, please contact JJ McDermott by email or phone 0458 608 786 for assistance with the booking.

If you are unable to attend the Forum in person but are still interested in participating, please please contact JJ McDermott by email or phone 0458 608 786 before Friday 18 September. We are looking into arranging a potential live streaming option over the Zoom platform and need to get numbers as soon as possible.

Smithsonian | National Conference on Cultural Property Protection (NCCPP)

Save the date September 22-23, 2020, 10am-3pm EST | 7am-12pm PST

Hosted by the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection (NCCPP)

This year the NCCPP will focus on current events and include sessions on Museums’ Response to COVID-19, Reopening Strategies, Protests at Museums, and Disaster Preparedness.

More information is available on the NCCPP website.

Or you can skip straight to the webinar registration form here.

Blue Shield International Updates – August 2020

With disasters occurring all around the world, Blue Shield International continues to support those most in need in the cultural sectors.

Karl Habsburg, President of the Blue Shield, has visited Beirut to support the work of Blue Shield Lebanon, the Directorate General of Antiquities and other partners in securing the museums, libraries, and historic buildings affected by the catastrophic explosion on Tuesday 4 August 2020. Blue Shield International is working hard to provide support for those working in the heritage sector, which has been deeply affected by the crisis. Blue Shield Lebanon and partners have been working round the clock to compile a preliminary assessment of the damage. https://theblueshield.org/bs-president-supports-beirut/

Flooding in Yemen during July and August 2020 is also causing significant damage to cultural sites and loss of life.

Further updates can be found on the Blue Shield International Website, Twitter and Facebook.  Follow these accounts for up-to-date news when it is available.