Protection of cultural heritage [fr]

“The protection of heritage is a challenge for civilization. […] But it also poses a security challenge, because during conflicts, the illicit trafficking in looted cultural property finances terrorist networks and contributes to the development of armed conflict.” Mrs. Audrey Azoulay as French Minister for culture and communication, 24 March 217
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Destruction of cultural heritage has become a tactic of war

Protection of cultural heritage, a challenge for civilization and security

Cultural heritage is a wealth that encourages dialogue. Its symbolic value makes it a factor of rapprochement, tolerance, freedom and respect. Faced with the multiplication of the destruction of several cultural sites, such as the archaeological site of Palmyra in Syria or the ancient manuscripts and temples of Timbuktu in Mali, the international community has mobilized.

Destruction of cultural heritage has become a tactic of war, used especially by armed groups and terrorist organizations. By fueling conflicts, propaganda, and by becoming a source of income that strenghten armed groups, pillage and illicite trade of cultural goods has become a real threat to international peace and security. Finally, when peace comes back, at the end of a conflict, cultural heritage plays a significant role to restore peace and reconciliation.

In this context, France is fully mobilized for the protection of cultural heritage, a major challenge for international peace and security.

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Cultural heritage plays a significant role to restore peace and reconciliation. Here, restoration of a mosquee in Timbuktu.

France and United Nations’ commitment to protect cultural heritage

In 2015, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2199 that addresses for the first time the necessity to protect cultural heritage from terrorist groups’ action in Iraq and in Syria. The resolution encourages States to take measures to prevent the trade of cultural goods.

France and the United Arab Emirates, together with UNESCO, co-organized on 20 March 2017 a donors conference on cultural heritage in Paris. This conference launched an international fund, the Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas, implementing in a concrete way the measures adopted by the Abu Dhabi conference held in December 2016.

On 24 March 2017, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2347, at France and Italy’s initiative. This founding resolution provides a comprehensive framework for the protection of destroyed or damaged cultural heritage by terrorists groups or in conflicts situations. France took many initiatives in order to abide by Resolution 2347, such as assets freezing and a enhanced surveillance of importations of cultural goods.

In the continuity of this last resolution, members of the Security Council met on 30 November for an open briefing.

Dernière modification : 05/11/2019

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