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Consiglio di Sicurezza – Briefing sulla distruzione del patrimonio culturale da parte di gruppi terroristi

Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatore Sebastiano Cardi, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite e Presidente del Consiglio di Sicurezza, al briefing in Consiglio di Sicurezza sul “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: destruction of cultural heritage by terrorist groups and in situations of armed conflict” —

I commend today’s briefers for their insightful remarks and for their strong commitment to the protection of cultural heritage, which has increasingly become one of the main target of systematic and deliberate attacks by terrorist groups and in situations of conflict and is also used for financing terrorism and organized crime.

These attacks affect peoples’ historical identity and undermine important values such as tolerance, respect for diversity and inclusiveness, thus hampering post-conflict reconciliation and long-term stability of the countries affected.
The international community has recognized the link between the destruction of cultural heritage and violence against local population, including through a landmark statement by the International Criminal Court in the case against Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi and the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and by the UNESCO General Conference and Executive Board.

It is critical to elaborate and implement coordinated measures, at the legal and operational levels, aimed at preventing and countering all forms of trafficking in cultural property. We made of the protection of cultural heritage and the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts one of our main priorities, including during our mandate on the Security Council.
We have focused on the Mediterranean, where Italy’s cultural identity is rooted in thousands of years of exchanges, and which instability today threatens our common everything.

In Paris, at UNESCO, we launched the idea of the Blue Helmets for Culture, supported the United4Heritage Campaign by creating a national Task Force and promoted specific resolutions devoted to interventions in areas of crisis.
Together with Saudi Arabia and the United States we co-chair the Working Group on Countering of Financing Activities of the Anti-Daesh Coalition and we chair the sub-working group on the fight against smuggling of cultural artifacts.

In New York since 2015 we have been working with the Mission of Jordan, and the organizations which briefed us today to address different aspects of the protection of cultural heritage, with a special attention to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts. In particular, this initiative concluded with the presentation of a list of proposed key actions to be undertaken by all the main stakeholders in response to attacks against cultural heritage.

Last September, at the High Level Event on the margins of the General Debate, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano, stressed once again the fact that acts of intentional destruction of cultural heritage are a huge obstacle to peace, since they hinder dialogue and reconciliation, by fomenting hatred among communities and between generations.

To address the rise in destructive attacks and serious crimes perpetrated by terrorists, France and Italy together (and we share the same vision as Ambassador Delattre said before) promoted UNSC resolution 2347, as an advanced legal framework for the protection of cultural heritage and property in armed conflict by, inter alia: promoting the ratification and implementation of relevant international instruments and strengthening international cooperation, introducing operational measures to safeguard and preserve endangered cultural heritage and to protect and promote cultural pluralism, introducing operational measures to prevent and counter trafficking of cultural property illegally appropriated and exported in the context of armed conflicts, notably by terrorist groups for financing their operations; and affirming that the mandate of United Nations peacekeeping operations may encompass the protection of cultural heritage from destruction.

As already underlined this morning, the report of the Secretary-General offers a first overview on the implementation of resolution 2347, containing specific proposals dedicated to future actions based on the provisions of the resolution. These paragraphs express the strong commitment of the UN system to act in a more harmonious way and to enhance its cooperation among Member States, who hold primary responsibility for the protection of their community and culture, and international organizations.

We will continue to actively work on this issue, also through the expertise of our Carabinieri and dedicated experts like Mr. Bianchi, because Italy believes that preservation of cultural heritage and promotion and respect of cultural diversity are key elements in reconciliation and peace-building processes as well as in establishing a sustainable inclusive human development. No society can flourish without culture, no mutual relation can be established without respecting people’s history and soul.

I thank you.

Before adjourning the meeting, as it is the last scheduled meeting of the Council for the month of November, I would like to express the sincere appreciation of the delegation of Italy to the members of the Council -especially my colleagues the Permanent Representatives- , to the respected staff, and to the Secretariat; for all the support they have given to us. It has been a busy month, one in which we have addressed constructively many important issues. We could not have done it without the hard work, support and positive contribution of every delegation and the Representative of the Secretariat as well as all relevant conference service officers and interpreters. As we end our presidency, I know I speak on behalf of the Council wishing to the delegation of Japan good luck in the month of December.