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Upcoming Abu Dhabi conference aims to protect cultural heritage in armed conflict

ABU DHABI // An international conference aimed at protecting cultural heritage during armed conflicts will take place in Abu Dhabi on December 2 and 3.

The “Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage” conference is an initiative by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and French President Francois Hollande. It will be held under the patronage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) at the Emirates Palace.

“The UAE and France are cooperating to do justice to endangered world cultural heritage and help Unesco in protecting cultural assets,” said Jack Lang, President of Paris-based Arab World Institute, personal representative of President Hollande and a former French Minister of Culture. “We are cooperating with our friends in the UAE to conserve the memories of people, as well as to ensure that the conference will succeed in coming up with bold resolutions to combat illicit trade in antiquities and facilitate the restoration and protection of endangered assets in war zone.”

The conference will be attended by a number of leaders, international experts and representatives of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) and other organisations.

“Participating countries should present different views to address the protection of endangered cultural heritage in war zones through tightened security measures,” Mr Lang said. “Whatever decisions are made at the conference will not replace the national laws in the concerned states. Rather, they will complement these laws for further caution and heightened measures.”

He said the UAE and France would present the decisions to the UN Security Council to ensure an emergency military intervention could be conducted, if necessary, and based on the assessments by Unesco, to protect endangered archaeological sites in conflict zones.

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