At the margins of the Austrian launch of the ICOM Emergency Red List of Libyan Cultural Objects at Risk, the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova met today with Dr Joseph Ostermayer, Federal Minister for Arts and Culture, Constitution and Media, of Austria.
The Director-General expressed her appreciation of Austria’s longstanding commitment, strong support and expertise for the protection of cultural heritage. She welcomed the German-language launch of the ICOM Emergency Red List as an ever more important tool in the fight of illicit traffic of cultural objects, underlining Austria’s engagement in the Group of Friends for UNESCO’s action to protect heritage under attack, in the framework of the #Unite4Heritage campaign. This movement seeks to mobilizes young people, historians, archeologists and scholars from around the globe to counter those who seek to destroy our common heritage. The Group of friends initiative brings together Member States to strengthen coordination to implement UNESCO’s strategy in this field.
Commenting on the wider range of threats to cultural heritage and UNESCO’s initiatives in this regard, the Director General informed the Minister of the recent Rapid Assessment Mission undertaken by UNESCO to the World Heritage site of Palymra. She also highlighted recent advocacy efforts with European Union on the harmonization of import regulations for cultural objects. Irina Bokova also commended the key support of Austria to the UNESCO project for the emergency safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Syria, implemented from the UNESCO field Office in Beirut (Lebanon).
Minister Ostermayer briefed the Director-General on Austria’s efforts in the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, highlighting inter alia the importance of traceability of works of arts. He underlined the need to strengthen all efforts to raise global awareness on the fight against illicit trafficking and the destruction of cultural heritage. Minister Ostermayer and the Director-General furthermore highlighted the great potential of world heritage sites for dialogue and cooperation, including through sustainable tourism and development.