UN Security Council adopts resolution protecting heritage

The resolution calls for the protection of historic monuments and sites in any conflict zone regardless of geography or type of attack.

Published: 25th March 2017 04:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2017 04:01 AM   |  A+A-


UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council strengthened its protection of global cultural heritage sites threatened by armed conflicts, saying perpetrators of unlawful destruction could be prosecuted for war crimes.

From the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan to the ancient shrines of Timbuktu, deliberate attacks against the world's great heritage sites have multiplied in recent years. In a unanimously approved resolution, the Security Council called for a systematic defense of cultural heritage sites, following early steps taken in the aftermath of Islamic State group attacks in Iraq and Syria.

The resolution calls for the protection of historic monuments and sites in any conflict zone regardless of geography or type of attack, whether for destruction, theft or trafficking. "Directing unlawful attacks against sites and buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, or historic monuments may constitute, under certain circumstances and pursuant to international law a war crime and that perpetrators of such attacks must be brought to justice," it said.

In a sign of the international community's growing get-tough stance on heritage, the International Criminal Court in the Hague on Tuesday sentenced a Malian jihadist to nine years in prison for the war crime of attacking Timbuktu's treasured shrines and a mosque. The new UN resolution calls on countries to create specialized units to protect cultural heritage and for stronger international cooperation to thwart the trafficking of cultural goods from conflict zones.

"The deliberate ruthlessness against humanity's patrimony stems from a will to destroy memory," said Audrey Azoulay, the French minister of culture, who presented the text together with Italy. "It's the same destructive will that aims at the flesh of women, men, children but also at stone, clay, the treasures of heritage, the museums," she said. "It's also a major threat to security because the trafficking often finances terrorism." Seven countries -- including France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- as well as a private donor pledged in Paris on Monday to provide USD 75.5 million to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and terrorism.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp