Protecting cultural heritage in times of conflict

In 2015, the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria was destroyed by IS. Unfortunately, this event does not stand on its own. Cultural heritage is facing many threats nowadays. The world has recently witnessed deplorable acts of deliberate destruction of important heritage buildings and sites.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the destruction of cultural property has led to ‘cultural cleansing’. This entails the destruction of objects that reflect times of cultural diversity: 1000 years of civilisation are effectively being destroyed. Destroying cultural heritage goes hand in hand with oppressing the identity of minorities. This type of war crime is used to spread fear and hatred among societies.

How should European and international institutions and other stakeholders act to ensure the end of impunity for the perpetrators of such crimes? At the Europe Lecture on June 13th, 2016 Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, shared her views on the many threats to cultural heritage in times of conflict. The President of the International Criminal Court Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi elaborated on how the European and international community should use international criminal law to combat acts of destruction or damage to cultural heritage. Archaeologist and researcher Sada Mire explained why the perservation of cultural heritage is so important.

ACCESS here the Text, VIDEO and Photos of Dr Mire’ Europe Lecture