Friday, 29 May 2015

World Heritage Hostage of Big Politics?

Cara Anna ('UN resolution on protecting Iraqi antiquities excludes Syria' Times of Israel May 29, 2015) reports that despite its sites and artefacts facing similar threat from ISIL, diplomats were wary of including Syrian cultural property in the UN resolution because it would be in some way tantamount to 'rushing to defense of Assad regime'. So much for the notion of a global heritage, eh?
Syria’s UN ambassador said Thursday that a newly adopted General Assembly resolution on the Islamic State group’s threat to Iraqi cultural heritage doesn’t address the same threat to his country because member states threatened to reject the measure. Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari told The Associated Press that “the Europeans” made the threat. [...]  Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim told the AP that “it would have been a bit more complicated politically, let’s put it that way” to make the resolution about Syria as well.
and because it is "complicated", in the eyes of the UN, antiquities can be trashed and traded with impunity when they come from territory one side of a line drawn on a modern map, and not if they come from the other side of the same line. That division applies in the eyes of the UN also to sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which rather calls into question the value of that Convention which so many  have worked so hard to promote. Bonkers.

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