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17.09.2015 – Press release

President of the German Commission for UNESCO calls for immediate halt of cultural destruction in the Middle East

UNESCO installs emergency fund for endangered heritage

On the occasion of the General Assembly of the German Commission for UNESCO on 17 and 18 September 2015 in Regensburg, Germany, President Verena Metze-Mangold called for further emergency measures to protect endangered UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Syria: Destruction of Aleppo’s historical monuments (March 2014)

"The cultural destructions in Palmyra, Aleppo, Mossul, Nimrud and Hatra are intolerable attacks on the memory of humanity. They are an assault on the cradle of civilization. The terror organization ‚Islamic State‘ attacks cultural goods and human beings in the Middle East alike", says Verena Metze-Mangold, President of the German Commission for UNESCO. "The so called 'Islamic State' kills family and friends of countless refugees currently arriving in Germany every day while at the same time taking away the foundation of their cultural identity. The international community must act now to stop the targeted destruction of cultural goods. Tolerance must win over fundamentalism", continues Metze-Mangold.

UNESCO has installed an emergency fund for endangered heritage. Ongoing protection measures will be supported with this fund: preventive documentation of sites, removal of endangered mobile cultural goods, capacity building of national experts for emergency situations, the documentation of destructions at World Heritage sites, the cooperation with the UN Security Council, the work for including the protection of cultural goods in humanitarian missions, the reconstruction of sites as well as comprehensive activities against illegal trafficking of cultural goods from looted sites.

Syria: Destruction of Palmyra’s historical monuments (March 2014)

"The terrorism of the so called 'Islamic State' is partly financed by the illegal trade with antiques. Germany, too, must act in this regard. Hence, I very much welcome the draft amendments to the German legislation on the protection of cultural goods. With these policy changes State Minister Grütters introduces the long necessary change of paradigms: National cultural policy has direct consequences at EU and at international level", says Metze-Mangold. "A strong art market needs transparency throughout the import process of antiques. Imports must be accompanied by an appropriate certificate documenting the export permission and the country of origin. That way the implementation of the UNESCO Convention against illicit trafficking of cultural property in Germany would be substantially improved. And this is much needed", continues Metze-Mangold.

In 2007, Germany ratified the UNESCO "Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property". It is an instrument for fighting illicit trafficking between states. Claims to re-transfer illegally traded cultural property are valid three months after the ratification of the Convention.

More Information:

UNESCO Convention against illicit trafficking of cultural property  

Safeguarding Syrian Cultural Heritage   

Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property in Iraq  

Donations for World Heritage Sites   



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