ICOM & UNESCO united to safeguard Iraqi and Syria cultural heritage
On April 1st, ICOM, along with other key partners of UNESCO in the protection of UNESCO cultural heritage, was invited to the High Level Meeting on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2199 and the Safeguarding of Iraqi and Syrian Cultural Heritage, which was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
The specific objective of this meeting was to map out the effective implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2199, adopted on 12 February 2015. This Resolution explicitly acknowledges that illicit trafficking also contributes to the financing of terrorism and prohibits cross-border trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property illegally removed from Iraq since 6 August 1990 and from Syria since 15 March 2011 In his speech, . ICOM President, Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Hinz, reasserted the key role played by ICOM since 2003, observing that “[ICOM] remained alert in combating illegal trade in cultural objects through publication of 15 red lists in 15 years and developed new mechanisms for research, data gathering & cooperation through the creation of the ICOM Observatory on the Traffic of Cultural Goods. […] ICOM stands ready to support UNESCO & others in tackling the urgent issue of the safeguarding of the Iraqi & Syrian cultural heritage at risk. We will continue to be proactive in preventing any further traffic of objects.“
Prof. Dr. Hinz thus announced the publication of a Turkish version of the Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk in 2015, along with the update of Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk to respond to the looting of the Mosul Museum, and the creation of an Emergency Red List for Libya that will be available later this year. It is through these concrete programmes and diverse actions, which were applauded by UNESCO and other partners during the meeting, that ICOM shows its commitment in tackling the urgent issue of the safeguarding of Iraqi and Syrian cultural heritage at risk.
The meeting recalled the need to protect heritage and to coordinate the efforts of the international community. As such, it is most welcome at a time when deliberate destructions of cultural heritage and the looting of cultural property in countries affected by armed conflicts are worse than ever.
Photo: ICOM President, Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Hinz and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova