Expo Milan 2015 hosts culture conference

UNESCO conference in Milan calls for defence of cultural heritage.

A two-day conference at Expo Milano 2015 saw culture ministers from 83 countries work on how to defend the planet’s artistic and cultural heritage.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bukova told delegates that attacks on culture are crimes against humanity. She called for UN “blue helmet” peacekeeper troops to be charged also with the defence of endangered patrimony – as has already happened in Mali, she pointed out.

Delegates cited recent dramatic natural events such as the Nepal earthquake, as well as the deliberate destruction of world heritage sites such as the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, or more recently the destruction by ISIL fanatics of artefacts in Palmyra in Syria, as danger to the identity and historic memory of all mankind.

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi told delegates that terrorists know well how to harm us in our lifestyle inspired by values, culture passion and beauty. “We are [meeting] here to state that we can react.”

Culture is food for the mind, but above all it is also an instrument for dialogue between people,” said Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini, chairing the meeting. He said that the international community has a duty to mobilise measures to protect cultural treasures around the world, and protect them from terrorist outrages.

Speaking in the Expo auditorium with images of Pompeii projected onto the walls, and archaeological discoveries displayed on the central table, Franceschini also announced the launch in Italy of an international school for higher studies, where students from around the planet could come to complete their courses in archaeology, art history and music.

(Photo: UNESCO)