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German-Iraqi initiative to protect cultural property

02.06.2015 - Article

The UN resolution on saving the cultural heritage of Iraq, sponsored by Germany and Iraq, was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly on 28 May.

The resolution on saving the cultural heritage of Iraq, sponsored by Germany and Iraq, was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on 28 May. Following the adoption of the resolution, Minister of State Maria Böhmer emphasised that it was high time for the barbaric acts of the terrorist group ISIS to be condemned and for concrete protective measures to be taken.

Minister of State Böhmer addressing the UN General Assembly
Minister of State Böhmer addressing the UN General Assembly© AA

Minister of State Böhmer, who had previously canvassed support for the joint resolution in her speech before the 193 member states of the UN General Assembly, hailed the adoption as “a great success”. She said that Germany had once again demonstrated its status as an important member of the United Nations and brought all of the countries of the world together. Böhmer started by thanking all the countries and organisations for supporting the resolution with their endorsement and for providing important food for thought and impetus.

Böhmer, who is also the current Chair of the World Heritage Committee, also intends to take full advantage of the political signal sent by the resolution at the upcoming session of the Committee, which will meet in Bonn from 28 June to 8 July.

Minister of State Maria Böhmer with Mohamed Alhakin, Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN
Minister of State Maria Böhmer with Mohamed Alhakin, Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN© AA

Destruction of irreplaceable cultural treasures

Following the adoption of the resolution, Böhmer said that Germany had taken the initiative for the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations together with Iraq in order to condemn the “barbaric acts” of the terrorist group ISIS and to propose concrete protective measures.

Attacks by ISIS on Nimrud, Hatra and Mosul have shocked the international community, Böhmer went on, and are part of a worrying trend of onslaughts on irreplaceable cultural treasures – from Bamiyan to Timbuktu to Hatra. Fighting in Palmyra is therefore also a cause of the greatest concern, she said. The Minister of State continued:

It is high time for these attacks to be condemned by the international community and for joint efforts to save Iraq’s cultural heritage to be made.
Joint press conference: Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN, Minister of State Böhmer and UNESCO Director-General Bokova
Joint press conference: Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN, Minister of State Böhmer and UNESCO Director-General Bokova© AA

Attack on the cultural heritage of humanity

Minister of State Böhmer emphasised that the destruction of Iraqi cultural property is a war crime and an attack on the cultural heritage of humanity. With this resolution, the international community is standing together to counter these attacks, she added.

These efforts also include measures to prohibit illegal trade with cultural property around the world, said Böhmer: “Each and every one of us must be aware that buying and selling cultural property illegally exported from Iraq is not only a crime, but also supports terrorists.”

Germany is taking the political mandate of protecting cultural property very seriously and has a special responsibility, said the Minister of State:

From our own history, we know that those who rob others of their cultural identity, excluding them from their shared history, leave the realm of shared humanity.

More information

Speech by Minister of State Maria Böhmer on the adoption of the German-Iraqi resolution “Saving the cultural heritage of Iraq” before the UN General Assembly (28 May 2015)

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