This website presents the outcomes of the project Implementing the 1954 Hague Convention and its
two protocols to protect heritage sites in occupied territories of Georgia, implemented jointly by the
Georgian National Committee of Blue Shield, members of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property
Protection and Peace at Newcastle University’s School of Arts and Cultures and the Didi Liakhvi
Valley Museum Reserve. It was funded by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Fund
(reference ES/M500513/1) through Newcastle University.
The project aimed to investigate the damage to cultural heritage in Georgia’s Tskhinvali region in
light of the primary international legislation designed to regulate the protection of cultural heritage
in conflict - the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed
Conflict, and its two Protocols (1954, 1999), applicable during situations of conflict and occupation.
The website features the Report on the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law with
regards to the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Occupied Tskhinvali Region, Georgia, its
comprehensive Annex detailing the damage to each site and the sources of information, and an
online database with a map-based visualization platform containing registered cultural heritage sites
across the entire Tskhinvali Region.
Damage to cultural heritage in the Tskhinvali Region is significant, and occurs for many reasons. This
report has analysed over 700 sites and examined national and international actions to protect the
region’s heritage. Using multi-source analysis that includes eyewitness reports, interviews, media,
social media, published NGO and IO reports, and satellite imagery assessment via Google Earth and
published reports by UNOSAT-UNITAR, it demonstrates that damage was incurred not only during
the hostilities in 2008, but has continued since and still continues today. Following the fighting, other
factors include illegal interventions causing alteration of the historic fabric of sites, construction of
military facilities and other new infrastructure in close proximity to the sites, alongside general
neglect. These pose serious risks to the preservation of the cultural heritage of the region.
The slow attrition of Georgian cultural heritage forms part of a wider narrative of loss. The lives of
the people who owned and used the cultural heritage - whose ancestors may have built the sites,
who visited them, who worshipped in the churches and the synagogue - are deeply impacted by the
conflict in ways that move beyond their immediate needs. Not only have they lost access to their
sites, but their traditions and practices and ways of living that have been passed down through
generations are disrupted, and in some cases at risk of permanent loss. The demolition of historic
Georgian villages, loss of authentic fabric at sites, and modification of churches, is part of a wider
revision of the entire landscape, also evidenced in the alteration of place names, and revision of
historical and religious narratives.
Actions to protect and maintain heritage are hindered by lack of access; monitoring is extremely
difficult. Since the early 1990s and especially in the years since 2008, given the political deadlock and
lack of access, it has been - and remains - impossible for Georgia to make any progress in
implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention in safeguarding and preserving its cultural property.
Based on a detailed analysis of the situation of the region’s cultural heritage, this report concludes
with a series of recommendations to improve protection, covering not only the implementation of
international law, but good practice.
Team of Authors:
Manana Tevzadze (Georgian National Committee of the Blue Shield), Salome Meladze and Badri
Gasparov (Didi Liakhvi Valley Museum-Reserve), Emma Cunliffe (part of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural
Property Protection and Peace, Newcastle University)
Research Assistants: Tamar Sopromadze (Georgian National Committee of the Blue Shield), Yasaman
Nabati and Lynn Edwards (part of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace,
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The authors would like to note that both the website and the report are still a work in progress and
updates to both shall take place periodically. We would be most grateful for your feedback and