UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova gives Europe Lecture in The Hague on 13 June

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO is the keynote speaker of the 14th edition of the Europe Lecture which will be held on 13 June 2016 in The Hague, the International City of Peace and Justice. This Lecture, which takes place during the Dutch Presidency of the European Union, is organised by the Europe Lecture Foundation in collaboration with Europa Nostra, the pan-European federation of NGOs active in the field of cultural and natural heritage which is based in The Hague.

The Peace Palace in The Hague. Photo: Roman Boed (CC BY 2.0)

The Peace Palace in The Hague. Photo: Roman Boed (CC BY 2.0)

The Director General of UNESCO will share with a wide audience of cc. 500 persons her views on the many threats to cultural heritage in times of conflict and in times of peace and will make a strong plea for a closer cooperation between European and International Institutions and other stakeholders to combat those threats. Ms Bokova will also discuss ways in which perpetrators of acts of deliberate destruction of cultural heritage or illicit trafficking of works of art can be brought to justice.
UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) contributes to peace and security by promoting international cooperation in the field of culture, education and research as well as by furthering intercultural dialogue throughout the world. UNESCO also plays a leading role in the protection, preservation and promotion of cultural and natural heritage at an international level, especially through the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Today, UNESCO seeks to increase its cooperation with the European Union with regard to culture, education and research, including the safeguarding of cultural heritage.

Both UNESCO and the European Union have recognised cultural heritage as a key resource for sustainable development and also as a tool for promoting peace and dialogue across Europe and the Globe. However, cultural heritage is today facing many threats, both in times of peace and in times of conflict.

More recently, the world has witnessed deplorable acts of deliberate destruction to important heritage buildings and sites, some of which figure on the UNESCO List of World Heritage. The illicit trafficking of cultural property continues to flourish and even constitutes a major source of funding for many armed or terrorist groups. In the light of those developments which constitute a threat to national and international security, the international community is currently organising itself to provide an adequate political, institutional, legal, military and policing framework which will help combat and prevent such criminal acts.

Under the leadership of Irina Bokova, UNESCO has increased efforts to raise awareness of the value of our shared heritage and of the many threats for the survival of this heritage. In March 2015 in Baghdad (Iraq), UNESCO launched the online campaign #Unite4Heritage to gain support for the safeguarding of heritage threatened by violence and destruction across the world. Europe’s leading heritage organisation, Europa Nostra, and its President, Maestro Plácido Domingo, who is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, have fully endorsed this campaign, alongside other international public and private partners.

At the end of June 2015 in Bonn (Germany), during the World Heritage Committee session, UNESCO launched the Global Coalition Unite for Heritage, designed to strengthen the campaign against deliberate damage to cultural heritage, particularly in the Middle East. On this occasion, the Bonn Declaration, which recommends that heritage protection be included in the mandate of peacekeeping missions, was also adopted.

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