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Subject: Appeal for the protection of cultural property in Israel and Lebanon

Appeal for the protection of cultural property in Israel and Lebanon

From: Hans-Christoph von Imhoff <xoph.von.imhoff>
Date: Saturday, August 12, 2006
This press release posted to ICOM-L might be useful for Cons
DistList readers and potential volunteers.


The new armed conflict in the Middle East:
In addition to the human tragedy, a cultural disaster
Appeal for the protection of cultural property in Israel and Lebanon
10 August 2006

Public opinion worldwide has expressed its consternation at the
extent of the human tragedy inflicted on civil populations in the
new armed conflict in the Middle East. It is also alarmed by the
level of material destruction of the human settlements and
infrastructure in the entire area affected by the conflict.

Moreover, we, the signatory organisations of this appeal, whose
"raison d'etre" is to protect the cultural heritage of mankind, find
it of the utmost importance to draw the attention of the public and
all political and military bodies concerned, to the scope and
gravity of the current danger to the survival of cultural heritage
of major significance, recognised for the most part as "World
Heritage" by UNESCO. We therefore support earlier statements by the
International Committee of the Blue Shield (21 July 2006) and the
World Archaeological Congress (31 July 2006) concerning the cultural
heritage at risk in the conflict in the Middle East.

In addition to the suffering of the populations and the intensity of
material destruction, it is the memory of mankind--through its
architectural, archaeological and museological wealth--which is
being irreversibly mutilated. The cultural identities throughout the
region are also severely threatened.

We would like to draw particular attention to the fact that numerous
World Heritage Sites are situated within the confrontation zone.
Amongst those in Lebanon, the site of Byblos, one of the most
ancient Phoenician cities, has been affected by an oil slick
following the destruction of fuel reservoirs. However, the sites of
Baalbek and Tyre, whose immediate surroundings have been targeted by
bombs, are most at risk. In Baalbek, bombs have fallen only 300
metres from the site renowned for its six Roman columns which are
the tallest in the world. The city of Tyre, where World
Heritage-listed Phoenician and Roman ruins and collections of
artefacts are located, has suffered multiple air strikes.
Furthermore, the bombs have damaged the natural heritage in the
protected Forest of the Cedars in the Al Shouf Biosphere Reserve.

World Heritage Sites in rocket-struck northern Israel are the
important archaeological sites of the tells of Megiddo and Hazor,
and their museums, and the ancient Phoenician city of Acre, which
also preserves important remains from Crusader times beneath the
fortified Ottoman town.

In addition to these World Heritage Sites (and the currently
proposed World Heritage Sites such as those in Haafa), the area
affected by the conflict comprises a number of archaeological sites,
monuments and artefacts dating back to the dawn of mankind and
retracing the succession of numerous civilisations (Phoenician,
Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic). Many of these sites have
already been inscribed by Israel and Lebanon on their tentative
lists in compliance with the World Heritage Convention. Finally, a
number of sites bear witness to this region being the cradle of the
three great monotheistic religions.

The signatory organisations of this appeal remind the parties at war
of the provisions of The Hague Convention for the Protection of
Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its two
Protocols, according to which the contracting parties "undertake to
respect cultural property situated within their own territory as
well as within the territory of other High Contracting Parties by
refraining from any use of the property and its immediate
surroundings or of the appliances in use for its protection for
purposes which are likely to expose it to destruction or damage in
the event of armed conflict; and by refraining from any act of
hostility, directed against such property" (art. 4.1).

Moreover, the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention (1972)
commit themselves "not to take any deliberate measures which might
damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage
situated on the territory of other States Parties to this
Convention" (art. 6.3).

Whilst recalling that Israel and Lebanon are contracting parties to
both Conventions, the signatory organisations of this appeal urge
all parties involved in the conflict to respect the spirit and the
text of these Conventions, whether or not they are contracting
parties to these Conventions. In addition to this, they urgently
request all institutions of the international community to work
rapidly to ensure that diplomatic negotiations bring the hostilities
to an end as soon as possible. They also demand immediate measures
of protection and restoration of the concerned monuments, sites,
museums (and their collections), by providing, amongst others,
national and international experts secure access to the sites.

The signatory organisations:

    EUROPA NOSTRA, Pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage
    Contact: Mrs Sneska Quaedvlieg Mihailovic, Secretary General
    +31 70 302-40-51
    imo [at] europanostra__org

    ICA, International Council on Archives
    Contact: Mr David Leitch, Senior Programme Manager
    +33-1-40 27-61-37
    leitch [at] ica__org

    ICCROM, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation
    and Restoration of Cultural Property
    Contact: Office of the Director General
    +39 06 58 553 1
    iccrom [at] iccrom__org

    ICOM, International Council of Museums
    Contact: Mr John Zvereff, Secretary General
    +33 1 47 34 91 61,
    secretariat [at] icom__museum

    ICOMOS, International Council on Monuments and Sites
    Contact: Mrs Gaia Jungeblodt, Director
    +33 1 45 67 67 70
    secretariat [at] icomos__org

    OWHC, Organisation of World Heritage Cities
    Contact: Mr Denis Ricard, Secretary General
    +1 418 692 0000
    secretariat [at] ovpm__org

Hans-Christoph von Imhoff
Strada Principale 30
CH-7603 Vicosoprano
+41 81 834 0284
Fax: +41 81 834 0285

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:9
                Distributed: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
                        Message Id: cdl-20-9-002
Received on Saturday, 12 August, 2006

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