Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage: The Abu Dhabi Declaration

Friday, December 16, 2016

In early December international leaders and representatives from 40 countries gathered in Abu Dhabi to establish a mandate to prevent the rampant and devastating destruction of cultural heritage taking place across the middle east. The two-day summit culminated in the approval of the Abu Dhabi Declaration on December 3rd. The Declaration created a $100 million fund to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts, support emergency actions, fight against illegal trafficking of cultural objects, and support the restoration of damaged monuments.

Led by French president, François Hollande, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed, the conference focused specifically on the recent threats to cultural heritage in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Mali. Instability within these regions, due to terrorism, civil wars, and unrest has led to unprecedented increases in the illicit trafficking of antiquities and destruction of historic and religious sites. The world has watched in horror as sites like Palmyra, in Syria and Nimrud, in Iraq have been literally leveled to the ground.

In an effort to stay the tide of destruction, the Abu Dhabi Declaration established an international network of safe havens that allows for the temporary safeguarding of endangered cultural property. France committed $30 million to the fund and made available store rooms to protect antiquities at risk. The UAE pledged $15 million for the fund. The Crown Prince underscored the importance of the conference as an “opportunity to join efforts and to cooperate with the international community to protect national heritage that is increasingly threatened,” according to the National.

A second conference will be held in 2017 to follow-up on the agreements of the Abu Dhabi Declaration and assess the progress of initial projects implemented by the international fund.

The Abu Dhabi Declaration is a critical step forward in the fight to protect the world’s most endangered cultural heritage. For a sustainable and lasting success, however, governments must follow the example set by Abu Dhabi Declaration by designing legislation that allow authorities to take swift action to safeguard heritage and prepare for post-conflict protection.

Read the full text of the Abu Dhabi Declaration here

 

More information:

Gulf News here

Artnet News here

 

*Image: Twitter Dubai Media Office

Posted in: Heritage News