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Unrest and Unity at UNESCO's 70yrs Conference

The International Conference “Cultural Heritage and Peace: Building on 70 years of UNESCO Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”. has come to a close.


What an important subject to debate and a sensitive one. This sensitivity was made obvious during the event, when a political spat developed in the audience as two representatives clashed over their positions on current and historic cultural destruction, occupation and conflict. An official from the Republic of Armenia addressed the panel outlining the cultural destruction and Azerbaijan's political agenda. Which led to a protest by an official from Azerbaijan, stating that this was no platform for "absurd allegations, 30 years of occupation, 1 million IDPs, and now this kind of statement, this is not the right place to do this"  (Watch here 1hr and 11 minutes into the recording ).


This was a very interesting event with engaging talks over the three days, the standout presentation in my opinion was from:


Professor Lynn Meskell explains the potentials and problems associated with cultural interventions in post-conflict communities, presenting in-depth research and findings with regard to coding sentiment and highlighting large-scale international initiatives, local attitudes and slow-burning tensions  -  Her presentation of data found after processing all UNESCO sites and their impact ( cooperation or conflict) was a stand out moment  - She finished by calling for National level change and that institutions should "Listen More Assume less" (watch again here)


There appears to be new and growing energy and a willingness to adapt, to reach out and collaborate with those outside the walls of technocratic – fiefdoms. I found hope in the talks by Elke Selter, the Programs Director of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH), Nour A. Munawar at the University of Amsterdam and Ammar Azzouz, Research Fellow at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford and


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