UNESCO Director-General meets the Director-General of ICRC to strengthen cooperation for the protection of cultural heritage in countries affected by conflict

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© UNESCO

On 31 March, 2015, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova met with Mr Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), in order to discuss the ways of deepening the cooperation between UNESCO and ICRC. They agreed on the imperative to join forces and work hand in hand to address the pressing challenges that stem from numerous armed conflicts in the world, where the cultural heritage and identity of people are under attack and threatened.

Referring to the concerns voiced by UNESCO with regard to the cultural cleansing and persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, Irina Bokova stated "the protection of cultural heritage goes hand in hand with the protection of the cultural diversity". 

In this respect, she spoke about UNESCO's actions and advocacy to counter the illicit trafficking of cultural property and the successful outcome of the adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 2199 which represents a landmark in the recognition of the direct linkage between the destruction and pillage of cultural heritage and the financing of terrorism.

Mr Daccord ‎stated his commitment to "establish greater synergies between the ICRC and UNESCO at strategic and operational levels" to promote the implementation of 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of cultural heritage in the context of armed conflict and its two Protocols.

Irina Bokova emphasized the importance of raising awareness about cultural heritage protection through peace-keeping missions and humanitarian operations‎ at country-level.

“The protection of the humanity’s heritage is our common responsibility”, said the Director-General. “We must not spare any effort to preserve them for future generations”.

Irina Bokova underscored the critical importance of the integration of the cultural heritage protection dimension in the operational activities of ICRC in conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters. She called also for the support to UNESCO’s campaign “#Unite4Heritage,” targeting youth, launched in Baghdad last week.

During the meeting, it was agreed to reinforce efforts for joint collaboration, including the future establishment of an agreement of cooperation between the two organizations to focus on the areas of mutual interest and concern.