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In danger: humanity’s cultural heritage

Training programme for stonemasons, Jordan

Training programme for stonemasons, Jordan, © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut / Bührig

08.10.2018 - Article

A conference and exhibition at the Federal Foreign Office highlight the challenges facing and ways of protecting endangered cultural heritage.

The growing threats to humanity’s cultural heritage make political action and international exchange ever more urgent. International and German experts are to discuss strategies for dealing with widespread destruction of cultural property through war, natural disasters and the impact of climate, as well as infrastructural change, on 8 and 9 October at the Federal Foreign Office. Moreover, on the evening of 9 October, an exhibition is to be opened in the Atrium of the Federal Foreign Office showcasing the entire spectrum of German engagement in the field of cultural preservation.

Foreign Minister Maas underscored just how important it is for humankind to preserve its cultural heritage:

Cultural heritage gives us orientation and stability; it is part of our identity and our memories. Its destruction is thus much more than mere physical loss and is in fact an attack on the heart of civilisation, on human dignity. This makes our efforts to protect cultural heritage at national and international level all the more important.

International conference on cultural heritage

Training course on surveying
Training course on surveying© Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

On 9 October, Foreign Minister Maas is to open the international conference “Cultural Heritage in Crisis – Prevention, Protection and Post Disaster Rehabilitation” of the Archaeological Heritage Network in the Weltsaal of the Federal Foreign Office.

Through discussions and workshops with representatives of UNESCO, the German Archaeological Institute, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), universities as well as international and German experts on cultural preservation and monument protection, light is to be shed on prospects and potential action given the different kinds of threat situations. The talks are to focus on protection, prevention and post disaster rehabilitation. Concrete proposals are to be drawn up based on case studies of best practice.

Exhibition and book presentation: German engagement for cultural preservation

Illustrated book: Worlds of Culture
Illustrated book: Worlds of Culture© AKCSP – Aga Khan Cultural Service-Pakistan

On 9 October, the exhibition “Worlds of Culture – Foreign policy for cultural heritage” The Minister of State for International Cultural Policy, Michelle Müntefering, is hosting the opening. She pointed out:

Conservation work after the earthquake in Myanmar, the digitisation of a radio archive in Afghanistan or the creation of a digital monument database for the Sudan show how substantial our contribution can be when it comes to preserving material and immaterial cultural heritage. By helping to preserve cultural property of immense importance in terms of cultural history, we are protecting cultural diversity. This is the focus of the Federal Foreign Office’s cultural work abroad and part of our work to promote peace.

The exhibition presents 15 outstanding projects which demonstrate what Germany is doing around the world to preserve culture whether, for example, in Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Iraq or Argentina. The projects have been supported as part of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office and the Stunde Null project.

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