UNESCO - Responding to Cultural Cleansing, Preventing Violent Extremism

30 October 2017

On 6 November, 2017, UNESCO is hosting at its Headquarters an international round table entitled "Responding to Cultural Cleansing, Preventing Violent Extremism". 

Although cultural heritage has always been a victim of conflict, in recent years we have witnessed unprecedented, systematic attacks on culture as a weapon of war. In Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Mali and elsewhere, extremists have deliberately destroyed heritage sites, targeted cultural, ethnic and religious minorities, and forced the displacement of peoples, contributing to the erosion of their intangible cultural heritage practices and cultural expressions.

This high-level panel discussion will focus on the wide-ranging social and cultural repercussions of attacks on culture – including the denial of cultural rights, the displacement of peoples and the erosion of cultural expressions. In particular, it will address UNESCO’s successful efforts to rehabilitate the mausoleums of Timbuktu, Mali, highlighting the importance of culture for healing communities recovering from conflict.

UNESCO has mobilized the international community around the defense of our shared heritage, fostering the role of culture in all its forms (heritage and cultural expressions).  The Organization has also led the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property, in an effort to curb the financing of terrorism and criminal activities. UNESCO’s efforts have resulted in the adoption of two groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolutions. The first, Resolution 2199, adopted in February 2015, recognizes the illicit trafficking of cultural property from Iraq and Syria as a source of terrorist financing, and prevents the trade of cultural objects originating from these countries. The second, Resolution 2347, adopted in March 2017, represents the first UN Security Council Resolution on the protection of cultural heritage, recognizing the broader role that culture and heritage protection play in the maintenance of peace and international security.

Panelists will include:

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Faryad Rawandozi, Minister of Culture of Iraq

N’diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, Minister of Culture of Mali 

Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

Karima Bennoune, UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights

Mohamed Elmoctar Cisse, Resident of Timbuktu

The panel will take place from 14h30 to 16h30 and can be viewed via live webcast:









In connection to this event, on 6 November 2017 at 9h30, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Faryad Bawandozi, Minister of Culture of Iraq, and Francesco Rutelli, President of the “Culture Priority” Association (Italy) will inaugurate the replica of the Nimrud Bull statue located at the UNESCO Fontenoy entrance.

"Responding to Cultural Cleansing, Preventing Violent Extremism" is one of a series of events organized under the theme “UNESCO’s Soft Power Today" highlighting the Organization’s use of soft power across its mandate over the past eight years.