Practice Relating to Rule 38. Attacks against Cultural Property
Uruguay’s Basic Information for the Pre-Deployment of Personnel Involved in UN Stabilization Missions (2014), in a section entitled “What is international humanitarian law?”, states:
In the workshop on pre-deployment, we will show a brief audiovisual presentation as an overview of the topic. It is important to remember that international humanitarian law (IHL) is a set of rules that, for precisely humane reasons, seeks to limit the effects of armed conflicts. It protects people not involved or no longer involved in combat and limits the means and methods of warfare. IHL is often also called “law of war” and “law of armed conflict”.
Although during peacekeeping operations or missions we are not in a traditional war scenario, we are in a place where there are conflicts of another kind and our participation may require us to apply these rules. The United Nations is clear in establishing that peacekeeping personnel are subject to and must respect and enforce the rules of IHL.
9.1 BASIC HUMANITARIAN RIGHTS
- Civil, religious and cultural assets of the population shall not be attacked, stolen or destroyed.
Uruguay’s Military Penal Code (1943), as amended, punishes military personnel, equiparados
and even persons unconnected with the armed forces “for unjustified attacks on … places of worship, convents, museums, libraries, archives, monuments and in general any establishment or structure intended for the purposes of culture, art, religious worship or charity”.
Uruguay’s Law on Cooperation with the ICC (2006) states:
26.2. Persons and objects affected by the war crimes set out in the present provision are persons and objects which international law protects in international or internal armed conflict.
26.3. The following are war crimes:
17. Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, [or] historic monuments … , provided they are not military objectives.
39. Intentionally directing attacks against a) cultural objects protected by international law … ; b) cultural heritage of great importance to humanity, including cultural heritage linked to a site of natural heritage, irrespective of whether it is included in the lists maintained by UNESCO or any other international organization.