UNESCO International Expert Meeting: Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage
In April 2011, a large-scale pro-democracy movement developed in Syria, and that groundswell shows no sign of stopping. In actuality, Syria is currently in a state of civil war. There are over 140,000 dead in Syria, and over 4 million people have fled the country.
Damage to Syria’s cultural heritage has made major news as the civil war unfolds. World heritage sites that epitomize Syria, such as Aleppo, Palmyra, and Krak des Chevaliers, have become battlegrounds. Many archaeological sites have been looted and many museums have been plundered. The illegal export of cultural properties from Syria is an international concern.
In light of this situation, UNESCO began a new project, Emergency Safeguarding of Syrian Cultural Heritage, this March to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage with the support of the EU.
As part of this project, “International Expert Meeting: Rallying the International Community to Safeguard Syria’s Cultural Heritage” was convened by UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris from May 26 to 28. The meeting was attended by over 120 experts from 22 countries. Two of those experts were YAMAUCHI Kazuya and ABE Masashi from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The extent of damage to Syria’s cultural heritage was reported at the meeting, and future strategies to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage were actively discussed.