On 23 March 2016, at the 134th session of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) taking place in Lusaka, Zambia, Member States adopted unanimously a landmark resolution entitled “Ensuring lasting protection against destruction and deterioration for the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of humanity.” This represents a significant step forward in engaging parliamentarians in deploying efforts to protect and conserve humanity’s natural and cultural heritage.
The Resolution emphasizes the important role that heritage conservation, restoration and promotion play in fostering nations’ understanding of their history and identity. Through recognition of humanity’s common heritage and recognition of the diversity and equal dignity of the world’s cultures, mutual respect among peoples is enhanced. Addressing various threats to cultural heritage, such as; armed conflict, looting and illicit trafficking, mass tourism, urbanization and climate change, the Resolution calls upon parliamentarians and States to take concrete actions. For example, it recommends training in and awareness-raising about cultural property conservation, the adoption of national information plans on historical heritage, and the establishment of protection perimeters to prevent damage to physical, cultural and environmental heritage. States are encouraged to become party to the UNESCO Culture Conventions.
The timeliness of this Resolution is reflected in its outlining the efforts of the United Nations to limit the destruction of heritage, such as Security Council Resolution 2199 (2015) banning the trade in cultural objects from Iraq and Syria in an effort to curb the financing of terrorism through their illicit trafficking. It is oriented towards the future by emphasizing the role of culture in development, and aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved by 2030, which are inextricably linked to conserving natural and cultural heritage.