UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, addressed the Forum for New Diplomacy – Harvard Dialogues on UNESCO’s action to protect cultural heritage in situations of conflict, on 3 December. The Forum, entitled “Protecting Culture in Times of War”, took place at Académie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris, and was organized in partnership with the International Herald Tribune.
In conversation with the editorial page editor of the International Herald Tribune, Serge Schmemann, the Director-General highlighted that heritage is particularly vulnerable in times of conflict, saying that “attacks against cultural heritage are attacks against the very identity of communities”. Such attacks cause lasting harm and make reconciliation much harder.
“Culture alone is not enough to build peace. But without culture, peace cannot be lasting,” said the Director-General, calling for action at three levels, helping States implement legal tools by strengthening the capacities of States and civil society to safeguard and protect culture and to prevent trafficking, building stronger ‘coalitions for culture,’ through tighter coordination with all partners involved, and integrating culture in all international peace building.
The Forum for New Diplomacy features leading figures in politics, business and civil society in discussion with senior editors and columnists from the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times about emerging dynamics in global affairs. The Forum provides an ongoing opportunity for exploring “new diplomacy” with a particular emphasis on innovative approaches to effecting change in international relations.