» In Jordan, Director-General calls for increased partnerships for the protection of cultural heritage
20.05.2017 - ODG

In Jordan, Director-General calls for increased partnerships for the protection of cultural heritage

“The destruction of heritage is a tactic of war. It is inseparable from the persecution of people, in a strategy of cultural cleansing,” declared the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa, held at the Dead Sea in Jordan. She highlighted that defending cultural heritage is a security imperative, inseparable from that of defending human lives.

On 20 May 2017, the Director-General participated in a panel discussion on “What new approaches and partnerships are necessary to better protect cultural heritage in difficult times?” Robert Saliba, Professor of Architecture, Urban Design and Planning, American University of Beirut, Lebanon; Corine Wegener, Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer, Office of the Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, USA and Princess Dana Firas, President of the Petra National Trust participated in this panel discussion. It was moderated by Jomana Karadsheh Scott, Correspondent, CNN International, Jordan.

UNESCO promotes a wider approach to humanitarian crisis, to strengthen the socio-cultural dimension of humanitarian responses. In this spirit, UNESCO is spearheading the UN Security Council resolution 2199 - on the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, as well as resolution 2347 - reflecting a new, clear and broad vision of the role of heritage to foster peace and security.

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.

The Forum provided a collaborative platform for over 1000 government, business and civil society leaders from more than 50 countries to discuss shaping the future of the Middle East and North Africa through public-private cooperation.

The Director-General also attended the Informal Gathering of the World Economic Leaders (IGWEL), on “The Future of the Levant”. The event was co-chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Borge Brende, and the Federal Minister of Defence of Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, and took place with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, Ayman Al Safadi.

On the margins of the Forum, the Director-General met with Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. The meeting presented an opportunity for the Director-General to highlight the importance of the WEF Regional Forum noting the event sends a constructive and forward-looking message on support to reform and inclusive growth in a context of deep humanitarian, political and social challenges. Professor Schwab commended the Director-General for her tremendous work to make education and culture so visible on the internationalization agenda. “UNESCO has become a key Organization in these areas,” he stated.

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