UNESCO prioritizes education and culture in the reconstruction of Iraq

12 February 2018

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Prophet Georg Mosque, Irak
© UNESCO

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, will carry out her first visit to the Arab Region from 13 to 14 February on the occasion of the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, which will take place in Kuwait (12 to 14 February). Participants at the Conference will take stock of Iraq’s needs and help mobilize civil society, the private sector and all international players around the country’s reconstruction.

Organized by the governments of Kuwait and Iraq with the support of the World Bank, the European Union and the United Nations, the Conference will enable the Director-General to reaffirm UNESCO’s commitment to the process of national reconciliation. She will also highlight the Organization’s work and role in support of emergency education and heritage protection as factors of national cohesion.

Ms Azoulay will take the floor during the last and politically important day of the conference, alongside the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad al Jaber Al Sabah, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini and the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.

The Director-General will also hold bilateral talks with the Emir of Kuwait, the Prime Minister of Iraq and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

On 13 February, the Director-General will travel to Dubai (United Arab Emirate) to take part in the World Governments’ Summit in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). During the closing plenary session, she will speak on the subject of Collective Intelligence in Action: UNESCO’s Role in Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century. Ms Azoulay will hold meetings with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai, and Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Also on 13 February, the Director-General will visit Abu Dhabi to meet Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince and Defence Minister, and visit the Abu Dhabi Louvre museum in the company of Noora Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.

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Key Elements concerning cooperation between UNESCO and Iraq in education and culture:

In 2017, UNESCO organized the International Coordination Conference on the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq which led to the adoption of a plan of action for the safeguarding of the country’s archaeological sites, historical cities, museums and religious heritage.

Iraq has five sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

  • UNESCO has spearheaded international awareness raising to reinforce joint UN action to safeguard cultural heritage. This has led to the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2347 at the UN Security Council in March 2017. It is the first resolution to take on board the protection of cultural heritage in areas affected by armed conflict without geographic restrictions.
  • UNESCO is working to stop the illicit trafficking in cultural properties through:

    • Follow-up on Security Council Resolutions 1483 (2003)
    • coordination with Interpol and UNODC in the implementation of Resolution 2199 (2015) which bans all trade in Iraqi cultural properties put on the market after 2003
    • Training border police and raising the awareness of cultural institutions and international auctioneers.
  • UNESCO has also helped close to 10,000 displaced secondary school children benefit from educational support as part of its strategy to promote access to quality education and capacity building. Needs are enormous and require an increase in international aid: 11 million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance, 3 million people have been displaced over the country and every week 70,000 Iraqis return to the territories they had to flee during the war.
  • In 2015, UNESCO launched the #Unite4Heritage campaign in Baghdad calling on the public to rise against extremism and radicalization by celebrating the cultural sites, properties and traditions.

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Contacts:

UNESCO Office in Iraq, Dhea Subhee, d.subhee@unesco.org, +9647827832739

UNESCO Media Service (Headquarters), Laetitia Kaci, l.kaci@unesco.org, +33 145681772