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40 nations to attend meet on heritage sites

France, UAE hosting international conference to protect heritage sites in armed conflict zones

Image Credit: AP
The Syrian city of Palmyra, a site that contains several ancient temples and a museum full of statues and other priceless artifacts.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Representatives of 40 nations, including several heads of states, will pledge their commitment to protect cultural heritage sites during armed conflicts during a two-day international conference at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi on Friday and Saturday.

An initiative of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and François Hollande, President of France, the Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage conference is a global partnership between the UAE and France.

It will support Unesco’s global mandate to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts, and to safeguard historic sites and monuments from systematic destruction as it happened in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Mali, and throughout the world. The governments of the UAE and France are organising the conference to formulate concrete steps to check growing threats to cultural heritage from acts of terrorism and illicit trafficking of cultural property.

Top officials attending the conference will include Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Qatari Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, and Hollande.

As Gulf News reported on November 25, the conference will take major initiatives like setting up an international fund and demanding the UN Security Council intervention to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts.

The international fund will be based in Geneva in Switzerland, according to Jack Lang, the French President’s representative to the conference.

France will contribute $30 million (Dh110.19 million) in the next two years towards the fund and the UAE is expected to announce its commitment at the conference.

France and the UAE are also discussing the possibility of introducing a resolution at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the protection of heritage sites in conflict zones, based on the proposals and recommendations to be made by the conference, Lang said. France is one of the five permanent members of the UNSC.

The conference will also take initiatives for mapping various cultural heritage sites to protect the endangered ones in conflict zones.

What will happen in the conference?

The Abu Dhabi Declaration will be adopted by the representatives of 40 nations, including heads of states, by the end of the two-day conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage.

The declaration will be based on the consensus arrived at the conference after detailed discussions to protect the heritage sites during armed conflicts across the world. The conference’s agenda will focus on improving legal and funding mechanisms to facilitate emergency protection of heritage sites as well as post-conflict rehabilitation. It will also study the development of concrete and innovative solutions, as well as the creation of a global framework for immediate and long-term goals. Additionally, it will launch the creation of a global network of safe havens as refuges for endangered works.

Top officials attending the conference:

  • Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of Kuwait
  • Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar
  • Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, President of Egypt
  • François Hollande, President of the French Republic
  • Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of Mali
  • Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan
  • Fayez Al Sarraj, Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya
  • Denis Zvizdi, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece
  • Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
  • Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Governor of Makkah Province in Saudi Arabia
  • Haitham Bin Tariq Bin Al Busaidi, Minister of Heritage and Culture in the Sultanate of Oman
  • Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, son of the King of Bahrain
  • Irina Bokova, Director-General of Unesco