UNESCO, France and the Emirates launch an International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage
On 20 March 2017, Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, participated in the Donors' Conference on the occasion of the launch of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas. The Conference was held at the Paris Louvre Museum in the Khorsabad courtyard, in the presence of the President of the French Republic, Mr. François Hollande, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates, HE Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Director-General welcomed the profound commitment of France and President Hollande to defending heritage and placing culture at the heart of the International Political Agenda.
"You have been among those who have put the greatest emphasis on heritage and the strategic need to protect it in order to respond to modern conflicts," she recalled, highlighting the joint mission to Timbuktu in 2013 following the liberation of the city and which kicked off UNESCO mausoleum reconstruction campaign.
The Director-General reviewed the wide range of measures taken by UNESCO in recent years, including the adoption of a comprehensive strategy and the creation of an emergency fund for the protection of heritage.
“UNESCO will continue to play its full part in coordinating international initiatives in this field," she concluded.
"The protection of heritage is inseparable from the protection of human life," declared President François Hollande, announcing the project of a framework resolution at the United Nations Security Council on the protection of cultural heritage.
"Those who destroy heritage are well aware of its power to unite communities, and they intentionally target culture, schools and libraries to enslave and accelerate the disintegration of societies. I have called this a strategy of cultural cleansing. This is a war crime and it has become a tactic of war," added the Director-General.
The creation of a new international fund, announced at the Abu Dhabi Conference in December 2016, reinforces existing tools - including UNESCO's emergency fund established in 2015 - and gives a new impetus to international cooperation for the protection of heritage.
The Fund, whose statutes are deposited in Geneva, aims to raise $ 100 million by 2019. Seven countries, including France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Morocco and Switzerland pledged some $ 75 million on Monday. Several other states have promised to make a contribution also, including in the form of expertise and political support, including notably Italy, Great Britain, Germany, China, the Republic of Korea and Mexico.
"Three-quarters of the target has already been reached," concluded Jack Lang, President of the Arab World Institute, and organizer of the conference, alongside Mohamed Al Mubarak, special representative of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
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