On the 26th of March, I was invited by the French NGO « Mémoires du patrimoine » to attend a seminar dedicated to cultural heritage during war at the Louvre’s school located in the heart of the museum. 

In August 2012, former and current students of the « Ecole du Louvre » in Paris founded this small NGO dedicated to acting on behalf of at risk cultural heritage. This initiative emerged following the call from UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to support Mali’s efforts to safeguard the world heritage properties affected by the armed conflict in the north of the country. It was only natural that the school decided to focus their first seminar on cultural heritage and conflict issues. 

The first morning session was dedicated to the case study of Timbuktu, with a general introduction by Mounir Bouchnaki, the former director general of ICCROM. The presentations, led by Gaëlle Beaujean-Baltzer, Head of African Collections in the Quai Branly Museum, addressed Timbuktu’s intellectual and cultural role in Islamic and African civilizations, and also featured journalist Jean-Michel Dijan, author of The Manuscripts of Timbuktu: Secrets, Myths and Realities, on the topic of the manuscripts and their fate during the conflict. 

The second panel placed a broader focus on actors and legislation. I was invited to take part in this session as a representative of Culture Conflict Cooperation and as a former member of the NGO Patrimoine sans frontières. I delivered a co-written submission on the role of social media and Web 2.0. technologies in the protection of cultural heritage, originally presented by Mario H. Ramirez in Istanbul in November 2012 at the ICOMOS-ICORP International Symposium “Cultural Heritage Protection in Times of Risk: Challenges and Opportunities.” During part of the panel, I was joined by Dr. Arnaud Bertinet who made a brilliant presentation on the evacuation of the Louvre’s collections during Napoleon’s fall and the two World Wars. In addition, Dr. Vincent Négri gave us a comprehensive view on the evolution of the penal status of cultural heritage destruction within international law. 

The presentation was well received by both students and external auditors who noted in their questions the potential dangers involved in reporting on the looting artifacts and at risk sites. Their concern being that greater exposure, although aiding in the protection of cultural heritage by raising public awareness, could also put these materials at greater risk to the very forces that one is trying to save them from.

The afternoon lectures were focused on cultural heritage in the aftermath of conflict with a case study on Dresden by Denis Bocquet, and a presentation on the memorial dimensions of artifacts by Dr François Mairesse. 

To learn more on Mémoires du patrimoine, join their facebook page

Laurence Lepetit
Today is the official opening of the7th World Archeological Congress in Jordan (14th-18th January 2013). This afternoon a session is dedicated to “The Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflicts and Civil-Military Cooperation, Lessons learned from a Civil Perspective”. A this occasion, Professor Friedrich T. Schipper (University of Vienna) and professor Patty Gerstenblith (DePaul University College of Law) will propose a “Declaration on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”.

To read the draft of the declaration: 

To follow the WAC Congress on Utube

You can make it possible for someone who cannot attend WAC-7 to join the conversation virtually through WAC-7 online!

From November 15-17 2012, I had the privilege of attending the ICOMOS-ICORP International Symposium “Cultural Heritage Protection in Times of Risk: Challenges and Opportunities” at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. A gathering of multi-disciplinary professionals committed to safeguarding the world’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage from natural as well as man-made disasters, the conference included presentations on a number of topics that addressed disaster management, slow risks, natural disasters, innovative technologies in risk mitigation, management in conflict areas and the specific risk incurred by movable and intangible heritage. I was there as a representative of this blog/website, and to deliver our co-written submission on the role of social media and Web. 2.0 in the protection of cultural heritage. Using our website as a case study, we analyzed the current use of utilities such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as cellphones, blogs and platforms such as Ushahidi, to document potential risks to a nation’s cultural patrimony, specifically during times of conflict.

Part of the panel on innovative technologies in risk mitigation, I was joined by Chris Marrion, who addressed mitigating fire risks to cultural resources and historical structures; and Carmen Moreno Adán, who spoke about her research in the use of new technologies to protect the architectural heritage of desert oasis in Morocco, among others. Given our location in Istanbul, many of the other panels addressed the affects of earthquakes on cultural heritage throughout the world. Highlights of the conference included Marina Lostal Becerril’s analysis of the current legal design for the protection of cultural heritage during armed conflict, the use of geospatial databases for risk assessment as detailed by Rohit Jigyasu and his colleagues from Ritsumeikan University and Juan Jose Prieto Gutierrez’s discussion on safeguarding the bibliographic heritage of the Institut d’Egypte. The schedule featured concurrent panels, therefore I unfortunately was not able to hear all of the presentations offered, but luckily, the proceedings were published and provided to participants. My hope is that a digital version will be available to the wider public soon.

At the end of the panel sessions, the gathered professionals approved the Istanbul Statement on Cultural Heritage Protection in Times of Risk, which, in brief, recommends that “…all risk preparedness, disaster response and recover strategies should address cultural heritage in parallel with practical humanitarian needs…” This is indicative of an important move on the part of the cultural heritage sector to create bridges of mutual understanding and communication with the greater humanitarian aid world, as well as to foreground concerns specific to recovery and risk mitigation for cultural objects.

The last day of the symposium was dedicated to an ICORP business meeting. Although not officially a member of ICORP, I and several others were allowed to attend the bulk of the meeting which included presentations on pending collaborations with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) (and specifically how a concern for cultural heritage fits within the Hyogo Framework for Action), initiatives to safeguard Syria’s cultural heritage and support cultural workers on the frontlines, and a conference on the protection of coastal deltas and principles for the conservation of earthen architectural heritage in seismic areas, among other things.

As our colleague Minna Pesu noted, what is extraordinarily useful about attending the business meeting is the greater insight that one can gain into the activities of the organization, and just how crucial they are. With the ongoing challenge of integrating risk mitigation and management for cultural heritage into the broader humanitarian aid platform, ICORP’s efforts are key towards advocating for cultural heritage as an important part of the recovery and reconstruction of societies impacted by disaster or conflict.

Overall, it was an amazing experience to be in Istanbul, and to get the opportunity to share our insights into social media and cultural heritage, to meet up with old friends and colleagues, and to cultivate new relationships. Next year’s meeting is potentially slated to be in Kathmandu, Nepal. Hopefully we will all get the chance to attend.

Mario H.  Ramirez
Photo Credit: Minna Pesu

This Master imparts the necessary competencies and skills in the conservation and promotion of World Heritage Sites as well as in the conceptualization of sustainable projects in the fields of natural and cultural heritage, creative industries, museums and tourism. The programme is divided into three learning cycles. The first cycle from October to December 2012 consists of distance learning on Cultural Heritage and Economic Development and the World Heritage System and Heritage Management. The second cycle is a face-to-face learning period from January to May 2013 that will be held in Turin, Italy, at the International Training Centre of the ILO and consists of four Modules: Culture and Economic Development, Project Management in the Cultural Fields, Cultural sectors and Creative Industries, and Tools for Strategic Planning and Evaluation. The third cycle from June to September 2013 is a research and study period during which the participants will work on producing a project for improving current management, conservation and marketing systems of a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site or on the development of a project proposal in a field of culture relevant to their context.

The Master has a strong international Faculty including Professor Walter Santagata, Professor David Throsby, Professor Allen Scott, Professor Andy Pratt, Professor Françoise Benhamou  Professor Xavier Greffe and Professor Helmut Anheier; Officials from UNESCO, ICCROM, the World Bank and the ILO also teach on the Master. The Master takes place in the frame of the training initiatives of the International Research Centre on the Economics of Culture and World Heritage Studies (Category 2 Centre Turin) under the auspices of UNESCO. There are two deadlines for submitting applications. There is an early bird deadline of 3 June 2012, and a final deadline of 2 September 2012.

For more information see http://worldheritage.itcilo.org/home

Reposted from: http://whc.unesco.org/en/events/889

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing this post to inform all who might be interested, of the fact that I am coordinating a Session at the World Archaeological Congress 7 to be held at the King Hussein Convention Centre at the Dead Sea, Jordan from the 14th-18th of January 2013. The Session is entitled ‘Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Conflict Resolution: Opportunities and Obstacles’.

Together with my colleague Brooke Rogers of the University of Queensland, I would like to invite you to submit a proposal to present a paper at this Session.

Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Conflict Resolution:

Opportunities and Obstacles

This session provides a platform for interdisciplinary discussion and debate on the role that archaeology and cultural heritage can play in conflict prevention, transformation, resolution and peacebuilding. Peace scholars such as John Paul Lederach argue that bridging the chasm between communities in conflict necessitates recognising that “The greatest resource for sustaining peace in the long term is always rooted in the local people and their culture” (1997: 94). This session seeks to unearth innovative ideas and approaches that can encourage and facilitate positive rapprochement between parties engaged in conflict. At the same time, this session also seeks to provide space for a dialogue pertaining to the obstacles and challenges faced by archaeologists, heritage practitioners and peace and conflict resolution professionals when dealing with heritage and history in the context of conflict. Such considerations are important to ensure that academic discourse and praxis is based on a responsive and responsible attitude that engages with the complex reality of often entrenched and protracted armed conflicts. This session welcomes multiple and diverse perspectives from a range of disciplines including, but not limited to, cultural heritage management, archaeology, history, anthropology, politics and international relations, and development studies.

To submit an abstract for this session, and for details on the Congress, please go to: http://wac7.worldarchaeologicalcongress.org/  

**Note – please ensure that you indicate the session title ‘Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Conflict Resolution: Opportunities and Obstacles’ in the submission process as this is the only way that WAC-7 Program Coordinators will be able to organize submissions correctly.

Important dates:

Academic Program

Proposals for papers: September 30th, 2012

Proposals for posters: September 30th, 2012

Notification of acceptance of papers and posters: October 15th, 2012


Early registration: October 20th, 2012

Travel Support

Applications for travel support: August 30th, 2012

WAC Travel Grant Committee decisions: September 30th, 2012

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

To follow WAC 7 on Facebook


The 28th of June in Cairo took place a cerimony to award to 29 Egyptian heritage professionals the qualification of 'First Aiders to Cultural Heritage'. This two weeks course was payable tanks to the professional engagement and good will of the Egyptian  archeologist AbdelHamid Salah Esherif who was one of the participants to the last year ICCROM course on First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict. 

Supported by ICCROM, the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development and the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities, the project aimed at developing a comprehensive training module that mirrored the syllabus delivered at the First Aid Course held in Rome from 26 Sept. to 28 Oct. 2011, while adding to it a more local relevance concerning the Egyptian context, the took into consideration the nature and scale of local heritage and the current political situation in the country

The training brought together governmental antiquities officials and antiquities professionals through interested local civil society organizations where an exchange can take place. Such exchange allowed professionals, who are eager to protect Egypt’s cultural heritage, to be cognizant of the government’s efforts and also become aware of its weak aspects, for example; where sites and inventories are not registered or protected and how protection efforts can best take place. It will also allow for the coordination of efforts between government and civil society. The concept of the project allowed such entities to meet and learn from their challenges and experiences to supplement each other capabilities. The training succeed in offering an opportunity to explore these issues and to gain skills in the safeguarding of these important assets. By the end of the training, especially during the final simulation the cooperation between the participants, who represent the governmental officers, and the participants, who represent the civil society organizations, was  clear and reflected the efforts which have been made during the 3 weeks training in order to qualify one big team represent both.

Training took place in Cairo and site visits were conducted to allow the participants to practically experience the situation on the ground and take specific action in relation to the peculiar situation of each site.
The teaching approach was modern and effective. The teaching team was composed of a wide range of international professionals working in the field of conservation, archaeology, heritage management and law enforcement  (Interpol and the Egyptian police force were involved too) who delivered lectures, presentations and used modern multimedia tools, like  audio visual aids, to share their knowledge in an attractive and effective way.

Thanks to this wonderful project 29 Egyptians had the chance to take part in this unique training opportunity and are now qualified as First Aiders to Cultural Heritage, ready to intervene in any emergency situation that  may impact on the cultural heritage not only in Egypt but also in any neighbor countries in need.

Best of luck to these new batch of First AIders!

For pictures and updates follow the Facebook group First Aiders to Cultural Heritage