As the only UN agency specifically mandated with the responsibility for safeguarding the world’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, UNESCO has a critical role to play in Syria.
Since March 2011, Syria’s exceptional cultural richness has suffered as a result of the on-going conflict. Many of its important monuments, including those on the UNESCO World Heritage List, have been severely damaged due to the conflict, many museums and archaeological sites have been looted by organized groups intent on illicitly exporting rare artefacts to be sold on the international art market. There has also been a rupture in the practice and transmission of Syria's intangible heritage.
As a result of the alarming situation of Syria's cultural heritage, UNESCO has actively mobilized its partners and the international community to raise awareness on the situation, and assist Syria in protecting all forms of its heritage, be it built, movable or intangible.
The Project Management Unit responsible for the management of the International Observatory of Syria's Cultural Heritage is based in the UNESCO Office in Beirut, Lebanon.