News Topic

Advocacy, Monuments

Approved by AHA Council, January 21, 2020

The American Historical Association condemns the use of historical sites anywhere in the world as targets for destruction and as shields for protection. The use of historical sites in warfare is a violation of international law.

Cultural sites, cultural artifacts, and archives form a vital record of a nation’s history and provide evidence of our shared global history. To threaten a nation by seeking to destroy evidence of its past contradicts the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347, and the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

History—indeed, even national histories—cannot be contained within contemporary nation-state borders, which are themselves artifacts of historical processes. Sites in one country might offer meaning or evidence for others, including historians around the world who use sites to study and teach about the past. These cultural and educational resources should never be pawns in military conflict; even to merely threaten their destruction is contrary to international norms and values that also cross borders.

The following organizations have endorsed this statement:

American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain
American Journalism Historians Association
Association of College and Research Libraries
Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History
Conference on Latin American History
Dance Studies Association
Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction
Immigration and Ethnic History Society
Labor and Working Class History Association
Medieval Academy of America
National Council on Public History
Organization of American Historians
Society for the History of Discoveries
Society for Italian Historical Studies
Society for Romanian Studies
Southern Historical Association
Western Historical Association
World History Association