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New scheme to protect cultural sites from destruction
Emma Kennedy - November 3, 2015

A government-backed scheme to protect cultural sites from the destructive forces of war and ISIL terrorists was announced by Culture Secretary John Whittingdale on 28 October.

The £3m Iraqi Emergency Heritage Management Project – run by the British Museum over five years – will be launched at a seminal cultural summit in central London, co-hosted by DCMS and the FCO.

It will create a team of local experts to assess, document and stabilise afflicted sites in Iraq, and help begin the process of reconstruction and preservation of some of the world’s most precious cultural artefacts.

Leading archaeological and political figures including Neil MacGregor from the British Museum and Mechtild Rössler from UNESCO will attend the event and debate the shape of a dedicated Cultural Protection Fund, announced by the Chancellor earlier this year.

At the event, Mr Whittingdale will also reaffirm the government’s commitment to ratifying the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict – with a plan to get it onto the statute books at the first opportunity.

The announcements form part of a comprehensive Government plan to rescue ancient sites and objects from destruction by terrorists, wars or natural disasters across the world.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said:

“Civilisations tell their stories through their art, which is why people who are hell-bent on destruction, target it. Removing places and things that have helped to give people a shared sense of history and identity helps to undermine social cohesion and makes reconciliation less likely.

“Many heritage sites are used for military purposes to shield and conceal soldiers and weapons, and valuable objects are trafficked to finance warmongering. It must be tackled head on.”