The Coordinating Committee to Safeguard the Cultural Heritage of Iraq to hold second meetingThe International Co-ordinating Committee to Safeguard the Cultural Heritage of Iraq will hold its second plenary meeting on June 22-23 at UNESCO. The session will be opened* by UNESCO Director General, Koïchiro Matsuura and by the Iraqi Minister for Culture, Nuri Farhan al-Rawi.
The Committee was created in September 2003, under the patronage of the Iraqi Culture Ministry, with the aim of distributing international aid in the best way possible. It is composed of 25 international experts including six from Iraq and nine observers representing UNESCO partner organizations such as ALECSO, ICOM, ICCROM, ICOMOS, ICA, IFLA, ISESCO, WMF** and the Getty Conservation Institute. The members are proposed by UNESCO Member States but are named, in their personal capacity, by the Organization’s Director-General. The first meeting of the Committee was held in May 2004. It followed three international experts’ meetings to evaluate the damage to Iraq’s cultural heritage.
The second session of the Committee will examine implementation of the recommendations made at the previous meeting, will attempt to reinforce international co-operation to safeguard Iraq’s heritage and will devise new proposals and activities. Following the opening session, closed-door sessions will be devoted to museums and cultural institutions, libraries and archives, historical monuments and archaeological sites as well as to intangible heritage. Ongoing UNESCO projects include, with the help of the Japanese*** government, refurbishing the conservation laboratories of the Baghdad Museum; setting up, with Swiss government aid, a data base for the archives and the management of the collections; improving the protection of the archaeological site of Ninevah; the preparation of a project to stabilise the Arch of Ctesiphon; photogrammetry equipment and training.
Iraq’s cultural treasures have been subjected to severe damage, including destruction, pillaging, and vandalism, during the recent conflict. Over 10,000 archaeological sites have been identified and inscribed on the list established by the Iraqi National Antiquities and Heritage Council but many others have yet to be listed. Two of the sites are mentioned on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Hatra inscribed in 1985 and Ashur, listed in 2003. These numerous sites as well as the collections, spared from pillaging, still in the national museums, constitute a precious heritage for humanity. They also attest to the greatness of the civilizations, Prehistoric, Sumarian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Persian, Parthian, Sassanid, Greek and Islamic, that succeeded each other in the land that lies “between the two rivers,” the Tigris and the Euphrates.
In recent years, UNESCO has contributed towards restoring the heritage of many countries and territories emerging from conflict situations, notably Afghanistan, South Eastern Europe, Cyprus, Cambodia and Timor Leste.
*Only the inaugural session on June 22 at 9:30am (Room X) will be open to accredited press. Accreditation is available from the Press Relations Section
--Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization
--International Council of Museums
--International Organization for Conservation of Cultural Heritage
-- International Council on Monuments and Sites
-- International Council on Archives
-- International Federation of Library Associations
--Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
--World Monuments Fund
Photo © UNESCO/Giovanni Boccardi: Hatra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.