Appeal to the International Community for the Preservation of Syria’s Cultural Legacy

Appeal to the International Community for the Preservation of Syria’s Cultural Legacy

Intergovernmental organisations were ineffective in preserving cultural property during the Gulf, Afghan, and Iraq wars, having failed to prevent the looting of museums and the irreparable damaging of historical sites during these conflicts.

In the last Iraq war, according to the Archaeological Institute of America’s website, up to 100 thousand historical, cultural, and religious artifacts were stolen, initially at the Baghdad Museum but later from various other locations.

Now, the historical, cultural and religious legacy in Syria is facing a similar fate. Various archaeological and historical sites, including the Aleppo and Damascus Museums, are under threat as a result of the destruction caused by armed clashes in the region.

All parties to the Syrian conflict should be reminded of Syria’s obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols, signed also by Turkey in 1965. The inability to abide by this convention during previous conflicts in the Middle East should also be brought to light.

Before the conflict in Syria escalates, an Initiative to Preserve the Cultural Legacy of Syria should be established and necessary measures should be taken to ensure its efficacy.

 

Kenan Yurttagül
Former General Director of Monuments and Museums at the Turkish Ministry of Culture

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