Protecting our cultural diversity as a means to build peaceful and inclusive societies

As the international community agreed that cultures can contribute to sustainable development (link to 2030 agenda), it cannot ignore the barbaric unprecedented destruction of the common heritage of humanity.

The ongoing cultural cleansing represents an affront to the human rights of the affected population and their ethnic and religious identities. In addition, the illicit trafficking of cultural properties is being used to finance criminal activities and generate income for terrorist groups as reflected in Security Council resolutions 2199 and 2253.

The safeguarding of the cultural heritage and respect of cultural diversity is crucial for enabling effective peace-building processes, national unity, social cohesion and sustainable inclusive development. UNESCO New York Office engages with the broad UN membership in the discussions over respective resolutions such as the General Assembly resolutions on “Safeguarding the cultural heritage of Iraq” and “Return and restitution of cultural property to the country of origin”.

UNESCO Office in New York promotes the Unite4Heritage campaign as  a global movement aimed to celebrate and safeguard cultural heritage and diversity around the world in response to the unprecedented recent attacks on heritage.

In this context, on Sunday 27 September at the margins of the High level Summit during  70th Session of the UN General Assembly UNESCO Office in New York joint efforts with the Permanent Missions of Italy and Jordan, INTERPOL and UNODC in launching a new initiative  “Protecting Cultural Heritage—An Imperative for Humanity” . The project will rally multiple stakeholders to enhance the protection of cultural heritage and counter the illicit trafficking of cultural property. It would complement the efforts by the international community and the wider actions to address this phenomenon. Co-sponsors advocate for raising awareness about the importance of this issue including by referring to it in relevant decisions of intergovernmental bodies.

For more information contact: Lily Gray, Liaison Officer, l.gray(a)unesco.org 

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