International Council On Archives – Blue Shield International

by Deborah Jenkins, Chair of the European Region, International Council on Archives

Malaga 14 November 2018

The idea that the international community has a role to play in rescuing and defending archives as cultural artefacts is a long standing one. The Blue Shield symbol, for instance, goes back to the 1954 Hague Convention. However, it is only in 1996 that Blue Shield International was founded (originally as the International Committee of the Blue Shield) by four international heritage bodies including the International Council on Archives. Their object was to take action in respect of archives and other heritage assets at risk as a consequence of conflict and, more recently, natural disasters including climate change.

The foundation of local country-based blue shield/bouclier bleu groups then followed in this century – for instance Belgium in 2000, the UK in 2003 and the United States in 2006. The work of these local national committees varies in scope. For instance, the French group has been helping with the consequences of flooding in the Aude recently. In the UK, after much campaigning by the local Blue Shield committee, the UK Parliament passed the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act in February 2017, adopted this year. Since then, the UK Government has provided guidance on the implementation of the Act, and UK Blue Shield is now working with them to look at the most effective ways to do this. (See the various local Blue Shield websites for chapter and verse).

These issues were discussed, among many others on the theme of Archive Services in the Twenty first century, at the conference of the Association of Andalusian Archivists in Malaga in November 2018.

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