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Published on : Monday, June 29, 2015
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) strongly appealed for international community to help counter the emerging threat of violent extremism and cultural cleansing taking place today in several countries.
“Heritage is under attack today. In Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, we see the brutal and deliberate destruction of heritage on an unprecedented scale. This is a call for action,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
She was addressing participants at the opening of the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany. The Committee’s current session will run through July 8.
“Our response to ignorance and criminal stupidity, must also have a cultural dimension: knowledge, the sharing of Islam’s millennial learning and wisdom, sharing the message of Palmyra, the ‘Venice of the Sands’, that is like a bridge between the legacies of ancient Greece and Rome, the Persian Empire and the Arab culture from ancient times to the present,” declared Bokova.
Committee Chair, Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office and member of the Bundestag, said the fury of terrorist organizations like the Islamic State (IS) surpasses the imagination.
“World Heritage is the foundation of people’s existence and cohesion […]. It is the wellspring of social identity,” she added, invoking the role of culture in peace building.
During the opening session, the International Young Experts Forum presented the outcome of their meeting, taking place from June 18 to 29 in Koblenz and Bonn. They read out the Declaration they adopted calling on States Parties to the World Heritage Convention to include teaching about World Heritage in national school curricula.
The World Heritage Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties.
Thirty-six sites are nominated for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List at this year’s session.
Also during its session, the Committee will also examine the state of conservation of 94 sites already on the World Heritage List, and of the 46 sites inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Debates will be webcast.
A number of parallel events will be held during the current session, notably the launch of the Global Coalition for the Protection of Cultural Heritage: #Unite4Heritage on 29 June.