The Purpose of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) is to promote the protection of cultural propery (as defined in the Hague Convention) against threats of all kinds an to intervene strategically with decisionmakers and relevant international organisations to prevent and to respond to natural an man made disasasters.

Following the Second World War, UNESCO adopted the Hague Convention (1954) which created rules to protect cultural goods during armed conflicts. This Convention was the first international treaty aimed at protecting cultural heritage in the context of war and which highlighted the concept of common heritage. 
The Blue Shield is the symbol used to identify cultural sites protected by this Convention. It is also the name of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) that works to protect world cultural heritage threatened by natural and human-made disasters.

ICBS works for the protection of the world cultural heritage by coordinating preparations to meet and respond to emergency situations as well as post-crisis support. And it promotes good standards through risk management training and awareness-raising campaigns for professionals and the general public. Its unrivalled body of expertise allows the organisation to collect and share information on threats to cultural property worldwide, thus helping international players to take the appropriate measures in case of armed conflict or disaster.
ICBS intervenes as an advisor and cooperates with other bodies including UNESCO, ICCROM and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICEC). Finally in emergency situations, ICBS encourages the safeguarding and the restoration of cultural property, the protection of threatened goods, and helps the professionals from the affected countries to recover from disasters.

Functions ICBS

  • To promote the ratification and implementation of the Hague Convention and its protocols, with the emphasis on advocating ICBS's philosophy and principles.
  • To encourage safeguarding and respect for cultural property especially by promoting risk preparedness.
  • To train experts at national and regional level to prevent, control and recover from disasters.
  • To act in an advisory capacity for the protection of endangered heritage.
  • To consult and co-operate with other bodies including UNESCO, ICCROM and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

It achieves this by:

  • Collecting and sharing information on threats to cultural property world-wide.
  • Raising public awareness about damage to cultural heritage.
  • Promoting good standards of risk management among those responsible for cultural heritage at all levels, from institutions to national governments.
  • Working to make decision makers and professional staffs aware of the need to develop prevention, preparedness, response and recovery measures.
  • Providing professional expertise to help meet emergencies.
  • Identifying resources for disaster prevention and for rapid intervention in emergencies.
  • Encouraging the establishment of national Blue Shield committees.

The Second Protocol to the Hague Convention agreed upon in April 1999 gave a new impetus to ICBS's role and that of its associated organisations. Indeed, ICBS is recognised as an advisory international organisation to the inter-governmental Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

A Professional Committee, an International and Independent Organisation, The International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS) covers museums and archives, audiovisual supports, libraries, and monuments and sites. It brings together the knowledge, experience and international networks of the following non-governmental organisations dealing with cultural heritage:

CCAAA Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations

ICA International Council on Archives / Conseil international des archives

ICOM International Council of Museums / Conseil international des musées

ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites / Conseil international des monuments et des sites

IFLA International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions / Fédération internationale des associations de bibliothécaires et des bibliothèques

The ICBS is constituted by the chief executive officers of the participating international organisations with a rotating Chair.
The chair provides a secretariat for core ICBS functions only, with support from the organisations as appropriate.