Throughout the world, wars and terrorism are threatening our sometimes age-old heritage which bears witness to the diversity of human civilization and our shared humanity.
In addition to the tragedy of civilian populations persecuted due to their backgrounds, convictions or beliefs, forced to choose between death or exile, comes the trafficking, looting and destruction of the global public property that is our cultural heritage.
Items have been destroyed in Bamiyan, Mosul, Palmyra, Timbuktu and elsewhere, in acts which targeted the whole of humanity. Part of our history has been lost forever, with the goal of fanaticism being to undermine our hope for the future.
We must fight back against this determination to reduce our most ancient heritage to ashes. Urgent action must be taken - the time for powerless expressions of indignation is over.
Today, we are calling on the international community to recognize what is going on. We are appealing to governments, UNESCO and civil society to mobilize to protect and safeguard the cultural heritage of humanity:
Because it is this heritage which unites us across continents. Because to attack it is to pose a serious threat to international peace and security. And because without memories of our heritage, no shared dreams or perspectives can be possible.
We therefore welcome the international conference on the protection of endangered heritage to be held in Abu Dhabi on 2 December and we call on all participants to assume their responsibilities. A historic challenge awaits us. Let’s make sure we are equal to it.