Culture at Risk


In an armed conflict or natural disaster situation, heritage is particularly at risk, owing to its inherent vulnerability and tremendous symbolic value. Through the implementation of its mutually reinforcing culture conventions, UNESCO works with the international community to protect culture.

In order to prevent illicit trafficking and destruction of cultural heritage, the Organization acts as a coordinator and catalyst to bolster cooperation and strengthen networking among national and international actors. This mobilization allowed to lead emergency actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Egypt, Libya, Mali and Syria in times of civil strife and warfare.

In November 2015, the 38th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a Strategy for the reinforcement of the organization’s actions for the protection of culture and the promotion of cultural pluralism in the event of armed conflict.



The losses caused to heritage at times of crisis, can deprive a community of its memory, the physical testimony to its past, but also of a precious resource for social and economic wellbeing. UNESCO seeks to harness the power of heritage as a positive and unifying force that can help prevent conflicts and facilitate peace-building, recovery and reconciliation.