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© UNESCO Havana/ Recording of the programme Diálogo Abierto on cultural heritage threatened by armed conflicts.
1 April 2015/ UNESCO Havana

Within the framework of the global launch of the UNESCO United4Heritage campaign on March 28, the Officer in charge of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, Fernando Brugman, appeared on the Educational Channel programme Diálogo Abierto (Open Dialogue), in order to share with Cuban TV viewers UNESCO’s standpoint on the need to protect the cultural heritage of those countries affected by armed conflicts.

The UNESCO Havana Officer pointed out the symbolic nature of the destruction of monuments, cities and documents of outstanding historical value that takes place in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Mali. He added that this strategy is aimed at weakening the identity and memory of those nations.

He further stated that armed conflicts not only favour the loss of significant works of universal culture, but they also have a great impact on the intangible culture heritage of the peoples involved.

“This is not just about the monuments,” he warned. “Rituals, festivities, trades and other manifestations of a people’s intangible cultural heritage may perish once the space where these cultural activities are carried out is lost.”

The Officer in charge of UNESCO Havana called on all persons, particularly young people, to join the struggle against these manifestations of intolerance and cultural cleansing.

In this respect, he offered detailed information on the United4Heritage campaign, a UNESCO initiative used by the social networks to sensitize people concerning the importance of protecting all forms of heritage that are presently being threatened or destroyed in the Middle East.

He also referred to the existing normative instruments aimed at protecting world heritage, such as the 1954 Convention, and encouraged the signatory countries of the different conventions to apply what is stipulated in those instruments.

In turn, architect José Fornés called for an in-depth study of heritage and the implementation of the necessary measures to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural property.

In answer to a question from the audience on the state of the protection of heritage in Cuba, Nilson Acosta, Vice-president of the National Cultural Heritage Council on the island, said that the country has gained experience in the documentation of monumental heritage and the heritage treasured in museums, and specified that new initiatives are being undertaken linked to the inventory of the intangible cultural heritage.

The guests coincided that the illicit trafficking of cultural property ignores that the economic value of the pieces, even if it were very high, would not exceed the symbolic value of the works, that is, their importance for the identity of the communities that treasure them.

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