Heritage and Conflict
Evening lecture by Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture, UNESCO
Lecture: 6:00 pm
Drinks reception: 7:00 pm
Close: 8:00 pm
Throughout the last decades, the world has witnessed several situations in which built or intangible heritage has been at the core of political, ethnic and religious conflicts. From the war in Cambodia in the 1970s and 1980s that severely affected the temples of Angkor, to the deliberate destruction of the Mostar bridge in Bosnia in 1993 and of the Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001, to the recent offenses to the heritage of Mali and Syria, historic heritage is increasingly targeted in situation of conflict. Intangible heritage is also often at the core of conflict or controversy, as it is linked to communities' identity and it carries meanings and messages. In spite of the important developments brought forward by International instruments such as the World Heritage Convention and the universal recognition of the common value of heritage for humanity, political and sectarian movements to create antagonism and to attack the values of others often exploit heritage. A recent case was the controversy around the temple of Preah Vihear between Cambodia and Thailand. The international community has developed a number of tools to deal with these processes, starting with the 1954 Convention for the protection of cultural heritage in case of armed conflict, and with the 1970 Convention for the fight against illicit traffic of cultural heritage. The International Criminal Court has started prosecution cases for the destruction of cultural heritage. Other important tools, such as the Blue Shield, have been developed by non-governmental organizations. Yet these tools, albeit of great importance, have limited impact on the ground. The lecture presents recent cases and discusses ways to improve and extend the protection of cultural heritage.
Francesco Bandarin was appointed UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture in 2010. He previously served as Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre from 2000 to 2011. Professor Bandarin trained as an architect (Venice) and as an urban planner (UC Berkeley) and has pursued an academic career as Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Venice and a professional career as a consultant for international organizations in the field of urban conservation and development. He was Director of the Italian Special Projects Office for the safeguarding of Venice and its lagoon, and Director of Special Programs for the 2000 jubilee preparations in Rome. He has written numerous specialized publications and articles and co-authored The Historic Urban Landscape: Managing in an Urban Century, published in 2012.