UNESCO, Italy Join Forces to Protect Cultural Heritage from Extremists
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentilon have signed an agreement for the establishment of an Italian Task Force for the protection of cultural heritage from extremists.
“The creation of this Task Force by the Italian Government comes as a direct response to the destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East and across the globe in recent conflicts,” UNESCO said in a statement on Tuesday following the signing ceremony in Rome.
The task force will be set up in the framework of UNESCO Global Coalition “Unite4Heritage”. Its members will be ready to deploy, at the request of UNESCO, to assist in safeguarding cultural heritage at risk.
A United Nations report released in December has revealed that cultural heritage sites in Syria have suffered a large-scale destruction due to the ongoing civil war in the country.
The taskforce draws on Italy’s carabinieri police force who have a long tradition in fighting the illegal trafficking of objects of art looted from regions of military conflict.
“I commend the leadership shown by Italy in promoting new and ambitious strategies to cope with the unprecedented challenge of deliberate attacks on cultural heritage in conflict situations around the world”, Irina Bokova said, according to the statement.
UNESCO member states adopted a strategy for the reinforcement of the protection of culture and the promotion of cultural pluralism in November 2015. The strategy calls on member states to contribute to its implementation through the establishment of mechanisms for the rapid deployment of national experts in situations of emergency, under the coordination of UNESCO.
“Terrorists targeting cultural heritage aim to destroy culture, education and the human capacity to grow with the full consciousness of what binds humanity in its cultural diversity and its pluralistic and inclusive vision,” Paolo Gentiloni said at the signing ceremony, according to the statement.
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