Friday, May 25, 2012

Update on Mali: New Security Measures

Following the damage afflicted on mausoleums—including the desecration of the graves of the revered Muslim Sidi Mahmoud—UNESCO and the Government of Mali are collaborating to protect Mali’s World Heritage sites.  A few weeks ago UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, stated, “This cultural heritage is our common property, and nothing can justify damaging it.”  New security measures thus have been defined, with Mali and UNESCO agreeing to take the following steps:
1) Mali will finalize its accession to the 1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.  This will allow Mali to appeal for additional protection to cultural properties.
2) The government of Mali will request that the World Heritage sites of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger.
3) Mali will draft a complete report regarding priority measures to preserve Mali’s World Heritage sites, and will appeal for both technical and financial aid from UNESCO and the international community.
In addition, UNESCO will proceed with the following steps:
1) UNESCO will present to the World Heritage Committee a report on the state of conservation of the sites in Mali, including the measures taken by the Government of Mali to protect these sites.
2) UNESCO will help the Government of Mali in safeguarding the cultural properties essential to the preservation of Mali’s culture.
3) UNESCO will raise awareness in Mali’s neighboring countries and in the international community to help combat the illicit trade in artifacts.
4) UNESCO will collaborate with the U.N. organizations engaged in humanitarian efforts in Mali to ensure the protection of Mali’s cultural property.
(For more details on these measures, see the link below.)
These emergency measures are the first cultural response to the crisis in Mali.  In April UNESCO expressed its concern for Mali’s World Heritage sites; a few weeks ago these concerns escalated as mausoleums were purposely damaged by rival forces.  While damage has already done, perhaps these measures will prevail and show that collaboration between UNESCO, national governments, and U.N. organizations can provide results.
Originally posted by Sally Johnson on CulturalSecurity.net.
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