The Headquarters Agreement signed between UNESCO and Italy on 27 April 1957 gave a home to a new organization, ICCROM. Sixty years have now passed, and the dialogue with ICCROM’s host country is arguably now more important than ever.
Today, Italy is taking a leading role in cultural heritage protection at the international level, a role made clear through multiple diplomatic and humanitarian developments. This aspect of Italy’s foreign policy and cultural diplomacy is both the raison d’être and explanation for ICCROM’s location in Italy. Recent years have seen many opportunities for collaboration between ICCROM and its host country on these vital themes.
Italy is deeply committed to heritage protection, and its strong engagement in the Mediterranean region is a main pole of its international policy. Both directly and through coordination, ICCROM’s host country supports nations in the Mediterranean through humanitarian assistance and capacity building. These initiatives, often taken in conjunction with ICCROM activities, aim for a positive regional impact in Africa, the Arab region and southeastern Europe, as well as internationally. Moreover, given ICCROM’s strong focus on disaster preparedness, ICCROM has leveraged its long-standing cooperation with Japan to bring visibility to Italy’s rescue of damaged heritage following the earthquakes in Central Italy.
In the 60 years of ICCROM’s presence in Italy, the collaboration framework has greatly evolved. Born at the aftermath of the Second World War, ICCROM was called – in the first years of its activity – to address the issues of the post-war reconstruction, issues supported strongly by Italian institutions. In the early 1960s, ICCROM contributed to international campaigns in which Italy was a driving force — recovery from the Florence floods, the transfer of the Abu Simbel monument and other initiatives as well. In more recent years, as Italy has strengthened its cultural diplomacy beyond its borders, ICCROM has offered an ideal platform for joint initiatives in a worldwide scenario, addressing the growing complexity of the themes proposed by cultural heritage.
The eighth international First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis (FAC) course concluded last week at ICCROM’s headquarters in Rome. The course brought together experts from several fields of expertise that included cultural heritage, disaster risk reduction, urban resilience, mediation, climate variability and humanitarian aid. Through the FAC training, they learned how to mitigate the disaster risks and prevent damage to cultural heritage in crisis situations and take the necessary steps to ensure early recovery post-crisis.
The Italian Chamber of Deputies gave the green light to the ratification and execution of the exchange of letters between Italy and ICCROM. This follows the approval at the Senate. MP Mirella Emiliozzi (Five Star Movement): keeping ICCROM’s headquarters in our country is of great interest and of particular relevance.
A fire, a flood, a storm surge. A hail of bullets, or an exploding projectile. Collateral and deliberate damage. All these pose an immediate threat to people and heritage, whether monumental building, tangible cultural object or intangible cultural custom. In an emergency, both life and way of life require fast-responding expertise. From Monday 11 November to Friday 06 December 2019, international experts will travel to Italy to train FAC course participants in a four-week workshop. The goal: to develop capacity and resilience in communities for the protection of cultural heritage against disasters, by training professionals from around the world in what to do before, during, and after a crisis.
Twelve new members have been elected to serve in the ICCROM Council during the period of 2019-2023. We extend our congratulations to all the elected members and look forward to working closely with our newly formed Council.
ICCROM’s Programme of Activities and Budget (PAB) for the 2020-2021 biennium has been approved by the 31st General Assembly. For the next two years ICCROM will be operating in adherence to the Strategic Directions set out by ICCROM Council in 2017. There have been conscious importance placed on effective planning and setting priorities to ensure the highest efficiency and impact of its work.