The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, July 16, 2018

Our responsibility to protect cultural heritage in conflict zones
The first in a new series, the J. Paul Getty Trust Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy, is available now: Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities: Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict Zones from Getty Publications.

by James Cuno

LOS ANGELES, CA.- On February 26, 2001, the Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar called for the destruction of all statues and non-Islamic shrines in Afghanistan. “These statues have been and remain shrines of unbelievers,” he said, “and these unbelievers continue to worship and respect them. God Almighty is the only real shrine and fake idols should be destroyed.”

A few days later, the sixth-century monumental statues, carved into a cliff in the Bamiyan Valley of central Afghanistan and testifying to the majesty of Buddhist art and its transmission from India into central and Eastern Asia, were hit by anti-aircraft and tank fire and then blown up with dynamite.

The oasis town of Palmyra in Syria was even more dramatically damaged. Its most important shrine, a first-century temple dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Bel, was reduced to rubble. A second temple, dedicated to the other Palmyrene deity, Baalshamin, was then blown up. The triumphal arch on the colonnaded main street, which may have commemorated a Roman victory over the Parthians, was destroyed. Several of the city’s tower tombs were also demolished. And finally, the local archaeological museum was sacked, although much of its collection had been removed to Damascus for safekeeping.

Monuments of cultural heritage should be protected for what they are: sources of local communal identity and civil society, economic recovery, and, through the military concept of courageous restraint, regional security.

For too long, the international community has been slow to respond to this challenge. But things have finally begun to change.

In 1998 the Treaty of Rome established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and stipulated as crimes against humanity “intentional attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments…provided they are not military objectives.” In September 2016 it secured its first conviction, when Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi confessed to attacking historic and religious buildings in Timbuktu.

A year later, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2347 condemning the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage. It named as war crimes unlawful attacks against sites and buildings dedicated to religion, education, science, and historic monuments and strengthened the mandate of United Nations Peacekeeping operations to include the protection of cultural heritage from destruction in the context of armed conflicts.

Then just last October, a meeting was held at UN Headquarters to declare the link between the destruction of cultural heritage and terrorism and mass atrocities. Every speaker, including myself representing the Getty, argued for the protection of cultural heritage as both a local and a shared resource. UNESCO General-Director Irina Bokova went further and declared attacks on cultural heritage acts of “cultural cleansing”: vicious attacks on the identity of a people for the purpose of destroying them, their heritage, their livelihoods, and the prospects for post-conflict reconciliation and peacebuilding.

In December 2016, with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the J. Paul Getty Trust convened a meeting at the British Academy, London, to discuss an international framework for the protection of cultural heritage in zones of armed conflict.

All of these developments inspired the launch of a new initiative: The J. Paul Getty Trust Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy. The first paper, “Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities,” addresses the threats to cultural heritage in armed conflict zones and the connection between the destruction of cultural heritage, cultural cleansing, and mass atrocities. It was written by Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor of Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center, and Nina Connelly, research associate at the Ralph Bunche Institute of the CUNY Graduate Center.

We hope the paper inspires continued dialogue and progress on this crucial issue. The paper is available for free download here.

Today's News

January 14, 2018

New York City to keep Christopher Columbus statue after 'hate' review

New exhibition of major works celebrates William Blake's relationship with Sussex for the first time

Anthony McCall's first institutional exhibition in New York opens at Pioneer Works

Our responsibility to protect cultural heritage in conflict zones

Smithsonian commemorates 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s final crusade in "City of Hope" exhibition

Josh Sperling's first exhibition with Perrotin on view in Paris

Sculpture of a Bashkir horseman installed on the shores of River IJssel

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum launches new podcast

New exhibition by Japanese artist Tabaimo opens at James Cohan

The Royal Collection appoints a new Director

Smithsonian names Julissa Marenco Assistant Secretary for Communications and External Affairs

Exhibition at the Hyde Collection includes more than seventy works by Alphonse Mucha

'Lisson Presents... Speech Act' on view at Lisson Gallery London

Michel Rein exhibits works by Luca Vitone

Exhibition brings together paintings and drawings by Allan D'Arcangelo

A Collection of Wine from a Secret Grotto in Northern Europe opens Sotheby's 2018 London wine season

Art Cologne announces Top-flight line-up of international galleries

Boise Art Museum opens "Jo Hamilton: Knots in Time"

Cristin Tierney Gallery opens exhibition of new video works by peter campus

Gavin Brown's enterprise opens LaToya Ruby Frazier's largest exhibition in New York to date

Lois Lambert Gallery opens exhibition of new works by the Brazilian painter and mural artist Rodrigo Branco

Susan Eley Fine Art opens Jason Noushin's first solo exhibition in New York

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- French nudists get cheeky with theme park and museum outings

2.- Galerie Miranda opens exhibition of works by Marina Berio

3.- European police seize 25,000 trafficked ancient finds

4.- Son's tribute to his late father £120,000 restoration of their Rover 95 offered at H&H Classics

5.- The National Gallery acquires Artemisia Gentileschi self-portrait

6.- Thieves steal ancient arrow poison from Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in the Netherlands

7.- Researchers discover the oldest giant dinosaur species that inhabited the Earth

8.- One of J.M.W.Turner's greatest watercolours left in private hands sells for £2 million

9.- Louvre sets up Beyonce and Jay-Z art tour

10.- A 'Japanese tip': the origami art left by diners

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful