Protecting the cultural heritage of Iraq for future generations: first ICC Iraq meeting held in Iraq
International Coordination Committee Meets in Erbil from 3 to 4 April 2011
Flanked by international experts and with the support of UNESCO, Iraqi officials took significant steps to address the threats against the nation’s cultural heritage at the 5th Plenary of the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of Iraq, also known as the ICC. The two day meeting, which was held for the first time in Iraq, resulted in a list of targeted recommendations intended to ensure that Iraq’s cultural heritage remains for future generations.
“The reconstruction and future development of Iraq must occur within a framework, and culture provides that framework. Our heritage tells us where we’ve been, lighting the way for our future endeavors,” said Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director General of UNESCO for the Culture sector.
As testimony to the importance of the ICC, First Lady Hero Khan, wife of President Jalal Talabani, opened the session with words of encouragement to the plenary and voiced her concern over potential lost heritage in the Marshlands of southern Iraq, where an entire culture was nearly wiped out due to the policies of the last regime. The Ministry of Culture of Iraq represented by the Deputy Minister Mr. Fawzy Al Atroushi chaired the meeting of behalf of the Government of Iraq.
The recommendations covered specific policy and management areas, as well actions to be undertaken to prevent any further loss of Iraqi heritage, as emotionally highlighted by the Advisor of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Mr. Bahaa Mayah. “This meeting had two primary objectives in support of one goal,” said Mohamed Djelid, Director of the UNESCO Iraq Office. “One objective was to firmly establish a working mechanism that allows the brightest international minds to join with their Iraqi counterparts. The other, was to identify actions to be taken to safeguard and promote Iraqi cultural heritage. And all of this to ensure that future generations can learn from the valuable lessons that first emerged from the peoples of these lands.”
The recommendations were the outcome of frank discussions between nearly a dozen international experts, some of them reappointed for another 4 year term of ICC Membership, but 4 newly appointed in that capacity and nearly twice as many government officials from the central government as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government. The key programmatic recommendations included:
- Cooperating with international experts on the preparation of the Management Master Plan for the Marshlands for the potential of creating a mixed cultural and natural heritage site, in light of the ongoing process for its nomination to the World Heritage List;
- Expanding the Erbil Citadel maintenance Master Plan into a comprehensive management plan within the Citadel’s larger urban context;
- Developing a master plan for the Babylon Museum, to be located in the former presidential palace, which would be based on the holistic approach taken in the design of the Basra and Sulaymaniyah Museum projects that include supportive, yet strong roles for the international community.
The 5th Plenary also marked the first time the ICC has met on Iraqi soil. The symbolism was not lost on the ICC members who saw this as an important transition to true and full Iraqi ownership of this deliberative body. Next meetings of ICC are planned to be organized in Baghdad, at the technical level, and in Najaf, at the political level and in view of the celebration Najaf Islamic Culture Capital in 2012.
The success of the Plenary was in part ensured by the attendance of some of the most important contributors to the preservation of Iraqi Cultural Heritage from inside and outside the country.
For more information contact:
Programme Specialist, Culture Sector UNESCO Iraq
email@example.com +962 (6) 590 2340