Emergency Preparedness and Response
ICOM is strongly committed to help museums professionals recover from disasters and plan emergency response.
According to the articles 1.6 and 2.21 of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, museums should protect their collections against natural and human-made disasters. To address this issue, ICOM develops programmes and raises awareness on heritage in danger and post-disasters situations.
Disaster Risk Management Committee – DRMC
ICOM Disaster Risk Management Committee gathers museum-related professionals to help countries in need deal with cultural heritage emergencies. DRMC is the ICOM Standing Committee dedicated to emergency situations response following major natural and human-made disasters, as well as during and after military conflicts. It works to limit and contain damage through preventive conservation measures, risk mitigation and rapid intervention. DRMC acts only upon the request of museums professionals or institutions and when the situation surpasses national capabilities for response. Its role is to liaise with the international community (local and international institutions) to share information and cooperate for improve risk management. DRMC evaluates each critical situation and the corresponding needs to develop response mechanisms, for instance by drafting a swift damage assessment report. DRMC also supports long term capacity building for museum professionals and fosters the development of regional networks. ICOM DRMC establishes Museum Watch Lists for critical situations and contributes to No-Strike Lists for escalating military situation. ICOM DRMC compiles a List of Emergency Response Resources for Museums and other Cultural Institutions.
The Museum Emergency Programme – MEP
The Museum Emergency Programme supports and trains museum professionals to plan an efficient response to all kinds of disasters. ICOM conceived the MEP for museum professionals and experts in emergency-related fields to overcome potential disasters through the forward planning of emergency situations such as earthquakes, fires, flooding, hurricanes or war destructions. The MEP aims at the identification and development of preventive measures through an educational approach with trainings combining theoretical notions and practical studies. It lies on two key principles:
- Adaptation to local populations and environment specificities;
- Implementation of regional networks and coordination with National Committees.
The Getty Conservation Institute and ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) took part in this programme and helped develop training tools.
The Blue Shield International
The Blue Shield is dedicated to protecting heritage in armed conflicts and natural disasters, and to providing post-crisis support. The Blue Shield is the symbol used to identify cultural sites protected by the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, adopted by UNESCO in 1954. The Blue Shield is sometimes described as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross. The Blue Shield was founded in 1996 as a professional committee and independent organisation to encourage safeguarding of and respect for cultural property. It brings together the knowledge, experience and international networks of the following founding members:
- ICOM: International Council of Museums
- ICA: International Council on Archives
- IFLA: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
- ICOMOS: International Council on Monuments and Sites
As an active member of the Blue Shield Executive Board, ICOM, through its Programmes Department, has been tasked by UNESCO to draft a Report on situations where cultural property is at risk in armed conflict and occupation.