UN agency to undertake emergency plan to safeguard Iraq’s cultural heritage

10 April 2003 –

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has convened a meeting of experts next week to draw up an emergency plan to rehabilitate Iraq’s millennia-old cultural heritage, the agency announced today.

The meeting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 17 April of over 20 top international specialists in Iraqi cultural heritage will draw up a preliminary inventory of the country’s heritage and prepare an intersectoral fact-finding mission to be sent there at the earliest possible date.

The mission’s goals will be to prepare an inventory of Iraq’s needs in the Organization’s fields of competence – in education, culture, communication and the sciences – so that it can take part, in close cooperation with the UN system, in the emergency humanitarian action it is entrusted with carrying out.

“UNESCO’s experience in similar situations over recent years has shown that education and culture can play a key role in consolidating the peace process and restoring national unity,” Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura told the agency’s Executive Board yesterday. “We must be ready without delay,” he added, “to help restore hope for the future in the Iraqi people.”

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