It was reported yesterday that UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, will sign an agreement on the establishment of a Task Force of cultural heritage experts in the framework of UNESCO’s global coalition Unite for Heritage on 16 February in Rome.
The task force will create a list of experts who could be deployed for the conservation of cultural heritage affected by crises. It has been reported that this agreement is a landmark in the development of UNESCO’s global coalition Unite for Heritage, which was launched in June 2015 during the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn (Germany). UNESCO hopes that other countries will take similar steps to reinforce the international community’s ability to respond to the growing threats facing cultural heritage in different parts of the world.
UNESCO states that the establishment of a Task Force bringing together cultural heritage experts and the Italian Carabinieri (Italian Paramilitary) force specialized in the fight against the illicit trafficking in cultural property will enhance UNESCO’s capacity to respond to future emergencies. The establishment of this Task Force by the Italian Government directly implements the Strategy adopted by Member States at UNESCO’s General Conference last November.
The Strategy also sets out to reinforce UNESCO’s action for the protection of cultural heritage and the promotion of cultural diversity and pluralism. It calls on Member States to Contribute to the Strategy, notably through mechanisms for the rapid deployment of national expertise in emergency situations under UNESCO’s overall coordination. The reinforcement of UNESCO’s capacity to respond to current challenges builds on existing international legal instruments, notably the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and enhances the scope of their application.