Flight Lieutenant Miriam Aicheler and Mr. Maxime Leriche participated in the final NATO International Conference on Cultural Property Protection in NATO-Led Military Operations, December 6-8, 2016. We had been requested to provide our experience of the integration of Cultural Property Protection (CPP) in Trident Juncture Exercise 2016. The conference also had several eminent speakers and the DRAFT report from the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) CPP project was presented.
The conference opened with an address from Dr. Frederik Rosén, Senior Researcher, at the Danish Institute for International Studies, and Director of the NATO SPS CPP. Discussions and presentations ensued from eminent speakers on the subject of CPP. Of note was Professor Karima Bennoune, Professor of International Law, United Nations Special rapporteur on Cultural Rights. She identified that cultural property was linked to the human right to experience one’s own culture and that of others and therefore cultural property should be protected; an interesting perspective that goes beyond the application of The Hague convention and legal requirement. We had also been invited to speak on our experience of Trident Juncture Exercise and how Cultural Property Protection had been included.
Having attended the previous SPS workshop; Best Practices for Cultural Property Protection in NATO-led Missions; J9 CIMIC staff had integrated CPP into the Trident Juncture Exercise scenarios, and liaison with Dr Laurie Rush to help build CPP lists.
The Execution Phase of Trident Juncture Exercise provided a rich experience as the Joint Task Force Head Quarters and the Component Commands worked through the various scenarios. The play highlighted a strong will to prevent and repair any damage done if the cultural property was not being used by the adversary. But the use of cultural property by the adversary for military purpose provided much discussion and debate, not only on the legal and military aspect, but also on the strategic consequence. This ‘Hybrid’ use of cultural property lent itself to the development of Non-Lethal activity plan which included the use of media, social media and a deception plan.
We were able to identify what went well and what did not go quite so well and present these Lessons Identified to the conference. This, in turn, continued to display the commitment of the Alliance to a Comprehensive Approach in its planning and conduct of operations and exercises as well as to strive to first consider non-lethal action when maneuvering in a civilian environment.
Story by JFC Naples Public Affairs Office and The International Humanitarian Law Institute, Sanremo