Destruction of cultural heritage has reached unprecedented levels. In light of this, and culture’s unique contribution to peace and sustainable development, the ratification, implementation and visibility of UNESCO’s six Culture Conventions are more important than ever. This was the focus of the Second Meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees of UNESCO Culture Conventions at UNESCO Headquarters on 26 September 2016, where two key themes were addressed: safeguarding cultural heritage and cultural diversity in times of conflict; and the role of the Conventions in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ms Artemis Papathanasiou, Chairperson of the Committee of the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict, flagged the alarming situation in countries such as Iraq and Syria and said “we have witnessed a cultural cleansing … protecting cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict is more urgent than ever”. She underscored the complementary goals of several Conventions to address illicit trafficking in cultural property flowing from conflict situations.
“It is important to give visibility to the situation – to raise awareness, consciousness and action world wide” declared Ms Maria Vlazaki, Chairperson of the Subsidiary Committee of the Meeting of States Parties.