International partners meet in Paris to protect Iraqi and Syrian cultural heritage

On Monday 1 June, three major events planned in Paris will draw increased attention to the need to protect the invaluable cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria. The initiatives will bring together high level partners, including UNESCO, the US Department of State, the Louvre Museum, and the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

At UNESCO Headquarters, ICOM will open its Annual Meeting of the General Assembly, an opportunity for the organization to set its rules of procedure and adopt strategic plans. Alfredo Pérez de Armiñán, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, will address the delegates.

Also at UNESCO Headquarters in the afternoon, the Permanent Delegation of the United States will lead experts and guests in a discussion titled “Despoiled and Destroyed: Ancient Civilizations of Iraq and Syria”. The UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, will open the proceedings, along with Crystal Nix-Hines, the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO.

Monday evening will see the focus move to the Louvre Museum, where ICOM will hold a press conference related to the launch of its updated Emergency Red List of Iraqi Cultural Objects at Risk. The release of the Red List has extra special significance this year because it highlights and supports the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2199, which recognized the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage as one of the major sources of terrorist financing. The UNESCO Director-General will also speak at the event, along with United States Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan, and Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Louvre.

The events build upon UNESCO’s existing initiatives for the emergency safeguarding of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, as well as the social media #Unite4Heritage campaign, which aims to counter the online propaganda of extremists by celebrating diversity, tolerance, and our shared cultural heritage.