PARIS/NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 25 – UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova welcomed the unanimous adoption last week of a new UN Security Council Resolution 2379/2017 on Da’esh Accountability and the preservation of evidence of crimes and mass atrocities in Iraq. The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano, took part in the vote. The main purpose of this resolution, drafted by the United Kingdom, is to seek accountability for the crimes committed in Iraq, which includes the establishment of a UN “investigative team” for this purpose.
The Resolution condemns “the commission of acts by ISIL(Da’esh) involving murder (…), attacks on critical infrastructure, as well as its destruction of cultural heritage, including archaeological sites, and trafficking of cultural property”, highlighting the link between the destruction of heritage and attacks on human lives.
“The deliberate destruction of heritage is a war crime. It has become a tactic of war to tear the fabric of societies over the long term in a strategy of cultural cleansing. Defending cultural heritage is more than a cultural issue, it is a security imperative, inseparable from that of defending human lives” declared Director-General Bokova, underscoring the need to end impunity for such crimes.
“I see this Resolution as further recognition of the importance of heritage protection to consolidate the prospects for peace and security – after the recent adoption of historic Resolution 2199 in 2015, which prohibits trade in cultural property from Iraq and Syria and Resolution 2347 this year, on the protection of cultural heritage in situations of armed conflict,” said Ms. Bokova.
UNESCO stands ready to cooperate with the Investigative Team, to be established by the Secretary General, to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL (Da’esh) accountable by collecting, preserving and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the terrorist group ISIL.
UNESCO is guardian of a wide array of legal instruments that are of vital importance in the protection of cultural heritage. These include the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954, The Hague) and its two protocols; as the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972).(@OnuItalia)