Welcoming a growing alliance around the protection of cultural heritage under attack, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova appealed for reinforced advocacy, strengthened legislation and measures to fight impunity for war crimes and destruction of heritage, during an event held during the World Economic Forum in Davos on 21 January 2016.
"We are at a critical moment in history that we have not witnessed in decades,"she said. "What we are seeing is the systematic destruction of heritage. This is about our identity and common history. We must craft new strategies against this plague, and partnership is the only way forward - to stop illicit trafficking, advocate, harmonize legislation, put the dots together between the humanitarian, cultural and security aspects and work for prevention."
Irina Bokova expressed encouragement before the increasing worldwide mobilization to share information, pictures and knowledge, and the recently enhanced coordination among customs, law enforcement, museums and cultural professionals. “UNESCO will continue to work to bring all critical partners together” she said. The Director-General also praised Yale University's initiative, with the Smithsonian, to form a network already comprising 40 universities to strengthen the research base and raise awarenes.
During the exchange, the head of the World Customs Organization called on professionals to share more knowledge on cultural artefacts to help customs officials make seizures.
The discussion was moderated by Martin Roth, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and featured interventions by Richard Kurin, Undersecretary for Museums at the Smithsonian Institution; Terry Garcia, chief Science and exploration officer from the National Geographic Society; Husnu Akhan, CEO of the Dogus Group in Turkey and Sarah Kenderdine, Professor from New South Wales University specialized in acclaimed museum installation works.