01.07.2015 - ODG

Director-General in London to Flagship the Importance of Protecting Cultural Heritage

© UNESCO/Ania FreindorfIrina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

On 1 and 2 July, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, is undertaking a visit to London, where she will lead a number of events, highlighting the rise of cultural cleansing through deliberate attacks against cultural heritage by violent extremists and the need to mobilize the international community to protect cultural heritage and cultural diversity.

On 1 July, the Director-General will give a Lecture at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, on “Cultural Heritage: Extremism’s New Target”.

In this context, Irina Bokova will review the rising scale of attacks on culture, cultural heritage and cultural diversity in conflicts across the world today. She will explore the significance of attacks by violent extremists and terrorist groups and highlight UNESCO’s action to combat cultural cleansing and safeguard cultural heritage and diversity. The Director-General will also underline the importance of protecting culture for future peacebuilding and reconciliation. The event will be chaired by the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Martin Roth.

On the same day, at a roundtable organized by the International Security Department at Chatham House, the Director-General will highlight the urgent need to protect cultural heritage from looting in conflict zones, and the ways by which states, law enforcement agencies and NGOs can achieve this goal. The event entitled “Culture on the Frontline: Protecting Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones” will be chaired by Peter Stone, Professor of Heritage Studies and Head of School of Arts and Cultures at New Castle University. It is organized in view of the UN Security Council Resolution 2199, which condemns the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, and adopts legally-binding measures to combat the illicit trafficking of antiquities and cultural objects from these countries.

On 2 July, at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the Director-General will take part in a roundtable organized by the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, entitled “Fighting Terrorist Financing: The Threat of Cultural Destruction and ISIS”.

The roundtable will focus on the need for new security strategies and international action to prevent extremism and its funding through the destruction of cultural heritage and the trafficking of stolen antiquities.

While in London, the Director-General is expected to meet the United Kingdom Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport, Honourable John Whittingdale.




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