UNESCO: Our cultural diversity is under attack, we need to protect our heritage for peace

9 June Jun 2016 1248 09 June 2016
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With the increasing targeting and attacks on cultural heritage sites across the world, but especially the Middle East and Africa, UNESCO are holding a high-level conference called #unite4heritage in Brussels this 9-10 June with technical experts. The aim? To strengthen policy advocacy for better recognition of cultural diversity in strategies for reconstruction and peacebuilding.

"The intensity and the number of attacks against cultural heritage have increased significantly in recent years, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.The persecution of individuals for cultural or religious reasons, combined with the systematic destruction of their cultural heritage, has marked the emergence of a form of cultural cleansing that is unprecedented in recent history," say UNESCO in the #unite4heritage conference concept note.

"The targeting of cultural diversity has become a key aspect of the huma nitarian and security challenges in the regions concerned. This directly weakens the resilience, cohesion and strength of the victims as well as societies as a whole. In return, the protection of cultural diversity can contribute to restoring social cohesion and to opening prospects to resolve crises, particularly in protracted conflict situations," UNESCO states.

By bringing technical experts together in a high-level conference in Brussels this 9-10 June entitled Cultural Diversity Under Attack : Protecting heritage for peace, the #unite4heritage meeting will explore how respect for cultural diversity is essential for reconciliation, national dialogue and reconstruction.

In addition, the rehabilitation of heritage, the practicing of traditions, but also for the strengthening of cohesion through an inclusive social fabric that is respectful of cultural diversity, can contribute to the restoration of security and peace.

With the destruction of key heritage sites like Palmyra having been destroyed, the importance of the conference is clear. The main question the experts seek to answer? "How can this vision strengthen conflict prevention and crisis management policies?"

Follow the conference coverage here: #unite4heritage hashtag on Twitter.

For more information on the UNESCO conference and the targeting of heritage sites, click here.

Photo Credits: Getty Images/Joseph Eid