France hosted a conference at the Louvre museum on Monday (March 20) to drum up financing for an international fund to safeguard cultural heritage in conflict zones.
The event was a follow-up to a conference held in December in Abu Dhabi which proposed to set up the fund to support programs working to protect heritage and to create a network of safe havens.
Speaking at the conference, French President Francois Hollande recalled a target set for the public-private fund—100 million dollars up to 2019, with France pledging to put forward 30 million dollars.
“You can’t draw a distinction between the attacks on monuments from the massacre of people. The intent, the objective is the same: destroy what existed before to kill off hope for the future,” Hollande said.
“The safeguarding of heritage and culture means preserving history, our history, the history of our ancestors, and it gives us the chance to set up the foundations and principles for the protection of culture for future generations throughout the world. A world in which we need more tolerance, more peaceful co-existence,” said Saif Bin Zayed Al-nahyan, deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Minister of the Interior.
“Extremists know full well the power that culture has to unify people, to give them orientation and strength. And that’s why they target cultural heritage, schools, places of learning, to enslave the people and to speed up the disintegration of society. At UNESCO, I’ve often spoken about a global strategy of cultural cleansing. It’s a war crime and it has become a strategy of war,” said Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO.