ICCROM’s 29th General Assembly

November 12, 2015

Press release

134 Countries to Convene in Rome to Discuss the Protection of Cultural Heritage Worldwide

Delegates of the 26the General Assembly of ICCROM, Rome, 2009Delegates from 134 Member states will meet in Rome at the 29th General Assembly of ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) on 18 – 20 November 2015, to discuss the organization’s future directions. The 29th General Assembly opens at a moment when conflict and natural disasters have increasingly hit heritage and communities. ICCROM, created 60 years ago by UNESCO, shares methodologies and practices for the protection of cultural heritage, an essential element for peace and development. In deploring recent intentional attacks on heritage based on wars and conflicts, the ICCROM community will attend an event on 15 November in memory of Palmyra heritage expert Khaled al-Assad, organized by Religions for Peace, Sezione Italiana.

ICCROM wishes to celebrate and commend those Member States who are particularly active, acknowledging their efforts for the care of heritage worldwide. The United Arab Emirates has partnered with ICCROM to create a centre for Arab heritage. At this 29th ICCROM General Assembly, the recently-signed ICCROM-ATHAR Headquarters Agreement will be acknowledged in the presence of the Emirati delegation, headed by Dr Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Director-General of the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities. Included is a voluntary contribution of Euro 7.8 million, the first such voluntary contribution of this magnitude. ICCROM draws attention to the importance of voluntary contributions which enable ICCROM to continue carrying out its worldwide mandate. The generous financial support from the UAE will go towards the ICCROM-ATHAR Centre, located in Sharjah, UAE, that will work with Member States in that region towards solutions for the risks faced by heritage in the Arab world.

ICCROM also wishes to celebrate and thank the many Member States in other world regions who have made substantial contributions to help ICCROM care for and serve its wider global community. Multiple Member States, institutions and professionals have contributed generously to the progress of conservation, also beyond their borders and mandates. These countries include Japan, Mexico, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, and other nations to whom ICCROM wishes to express its gratitude.

To allow ICCROM to respond rapidly to ever-more-frequent crisis situations, such as the recent Nepal earthquake of May 2015, ICCROM is developing an emergency fund for ad-hoc disaster response training and other needed actions in the event of catastrophes, for which voluntary contributions from Member States will be deeply appreciated.

At this 29th General Assembly, ICCROM will welcome the return of the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation boasts world class museums and cultural sites, including the Hermitage Museum, the Pushkin State Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, and 26 World Heritage sites within Russian territory. This important new Member State gives ICCROM opportunities for new programmes and activities which will benefit the region and the world.

Delegate to this year’s General Assembly also wish to reflect on the lessons learned from past natural disasters, and on the increasing impact of climate change on cultural heritage. These discussions will mirror the upcoming Paris 2015 conference (“21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”, 30 Nov – 11 Dec 2015). A keynote speech by Jerry Velasquez, Director of Advocacy and Outreach at UNISDR, will explore how climate change is fuelling the intensity and violence of natural disasters. At question is how the leading cultural heritage organizations can coordinate efforts to protect heritage.

This meeting will also mark the presentation of the prestigious ICCROM Award, which this year goes to an African expert and long-time colleague of ICCROM. Dr Webber Ndoro, Director of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and Associate Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, has made longstanding contribution to the development of conservation in Africa. The ICCROM Award is granted to individuals who have given a significant contribution to the development of ICCROM, and who have special merit in the field of conservation, protection and restoration of cultural heritage.

The ICCROM 29th General Assembly will take place on the premises of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome, Italy, from 18 – 20 November 2015.

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