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Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Amb. Gianluca Greco, at event “Defending Creative Voices: Protection of Artists in Times of Emergencies”

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Thank you, thank you so much,

Excellencies, distinguished artists, and guests,

It is a pleasure to join UNESCO, the mission of Norway, and other partners at today’s event that aims to raise awareness and mobilize support for artists in times of emergency – a cause to which Italy is firmly committed. The protection and promotion of culture – in all its forms and contexts – are at the heart of Italian foreign policy.

Artists and culture bear an enormous impact in fostering dialogue and in building peaceful, inclusive and just societies around the world.

In Italy, we know that art transcends boundaries, languages, and ideologies. Culture weaves together diverse threads of our shared existence. And artists are often at the forefront of change. Through their work, they challenge barriers and amplify marginalized voices. Artists and culture professionals can play an essential role in shaping the innovative multi-stakeholder responses to today’s complex, urgent and multi-faceted challenges.

Such principles inspire our longstanding cooperation with UNESCO, which dates back to more than 70 years. Italy attaches the highest importance to its membership and supports the Organization’s activities by means of human and financial resources, as well as through active participation in its programmes.

In times of crisis, artists are also key in showing the path to recovery and prevention. Their creations – whether paintings, music, literature, or performances—forge connections, fostering empathy and understanding. In emergencies, their work becomes even more critical. They document the pain, resilience, and hope of communities affected by conflict, natural disasters, or political upheaval.

Yet, despite their vital role, artists encounter tough challenges, often facing threats, harassment, and attacks for their creative expression. Furthermore, there is no protection mechanism during crisis that artists can access. They have remained an overlooked group, despite their immense contribution.

For all these reasons, Italy is deeply committed to safeguarding culture and artists in crisis contexts due to armed conflicts, the effects of climate change, natural hazards, pandemics, as well as to the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage, particularly through the commendable programmes carried out by the “Carabinieri” Special Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

There are a range of initiatives being implemented by diverse stakeholders worldwide, such as the provision of emergency grants and other types of urgent assistance, as well as programmes facilitating access to temporary art residencies, evacuation and resettlement, safe passage and the provision of international protection.

I trust that today’s event will allow for a productive dialogue on how to enhance coordination among the different existing initiatives to further support artists in emergency situations.

I am confident that our discussion will be relevant also for the aspirations embedded in the MONDIACULT 2022 Declaration, including its affirmation of culture as a global public good.

In this vein, I am pleased to announce that a UN Group of Friends of Culture will be launched soon. Together with other advocates for culture, Italy would work to provide a platform, bringing together Member States’ voices on culture and their contribution to sustainable development. The Group will aim to promote the integration of culture and creativity into international discussions also in the broader spheres of climate change, education, and the digital environment among others.

Together with the other co-chairs and UNESCO we will be sharing further information soon.

Distinguished guests,

Let me conclude by saying that, in defending creative voices, we safeguard our collective heritage. Let us stand together—artists, policymakers, and advocates—to ensure that art flourishes even amidst adversity. For when artists thrive, societies heal, and sustainable development becomes a reality.

 

I thank you.