The Florence Declaration: G7 countries unite to safeguard cultural heritage | Integrated Heritage Project

Monday, November 6, 2017

On March 30, 2017 representatives from Germany, Italy, France, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and UNESCO met at the inaugural G7 Ministerial Meeting on Culture to discuss the importance of culture as an instrument for dialogue and in peace building and the need to strengthen the safeguarding of cultural heritage. The meeting culminated in the adoption of the Florence Declaration, a joint declaration by the G7 that affirms the importance of and commitment to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage.

“In the times we live in, we need to drastically strengthen international coordination in the field of culture,” said Mr Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (UNESCO), stressing the role of the cultural sector as a tool to prevent conflicts and mistrust.

Culture Ministers from the G7 countries agreed that coordinated international collaboration is critical establishing a global framework to protect cultural heritage, particularly during these times of continued deliberate destruction of heritage. Experts are already working on international regulations, processes, and measures designed to safeguard cultural heritage, with a particular focus on areas impacted by armed conflict.

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova declared, “The deliberate destruction of heritage is a war crime — it has become a tactic of war, to undermine societies, to paralyze communities, to spread hatred, to fuel revenge, in a global strategy of cultural cleansing,” During her speech, Bokova undersored the need for action, “This is inacceptable and it calls for stronger and appropriate responses. Defending cultural heritage is more than a cultural issue — it is a security imperative, inseparable from that of defending human lives.” (UNESCO)

This agreement comes a week after the historic implementation of UN Security Council 2347/2017 on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the event of Armed Conflict. France and Italy have so far been the strongest supporters of these initiatives promoting the connections between heritage and peace.

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*Image: UNESCO

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