In Davos, Director-General calls for increased partnerships to protect cultural heritage in times of conflict
“The destruction of heritage is a destruction of identities,” declared UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova at the World Economic Forum in Davos, calling for increased partnerships to strengthen the socio-cultural dimension of the humanitarian response. “Protecting heritage cannot be separated from the protection of human lives.”
On 17 January, the Director-General participated in a panel discussion on the “Protection of Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict” held under the Humanitarian Hub, with Corine Wegener, Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer, at the Office of the Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Director-General reiterated the importance of raising awareness and strengthening mobilization to protect culture in times of crisis. Referring to UNESCO’s global campaign #Unite4Heritage, she called for increased support from the public and private sectors as well as the media, to convey the message that heritage is an integral part of social resilience and to share the values of tolerance embedded in heritage.
“Access to culture is an integral part of human rights and is essential to ensure dignity and social cohesion in situations of distress,” said Ms Bokova.
The Director-General also discussed the challenges of providing “safe havens” for heritage under destruction at an event entitled “Safe Havens for Heritage in Wartime: Cultural Leadership in a Dangerous World”. The event was held on 18 January, with the participation of Sabine Choucair, Clown and Storyteller, Clown Me In, Lebanon, Richard Kurin, Acting Provost; Undersecretary for Museums and Research, Smithsonian Institution, USA; Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General, World Customs Organization (WCO), Brussels, and Hadley Gamble, Reporter and Anchor, CNBC, United Kingdom.
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