Why Cultural Heritage Matters for the Common Future of Humanity
Irina Bokova, born in Sofia (Bulgaria), has served two terms Director-General of UNESCO (2009 to 2017). She is the first woman and the first Eastern European to lead the Organization. She represented Bulgaria as Interim Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador to France, Monaco and UNESCO and served as Personal Representative of its President to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.
Today, cultural heritage is at the frontline of “modern” conflicts, under attack by extremists in Mali, Syria and Iraq who aim to erase histories and identities. Protection of cultural heritage is vital for reconciliation, social transformation and efforts to safeguard peace; it becomes an important part of security and humanitarian response in crisis situations.
During her talk, Ms. Bokova will discuss why protecting world heritage is one of the most positive, visionary and transformative ideas that has emerged in the last century. This is the idea that heritage belonging to different cultures may represent “outstanding universal value” and should be protected by international law embodied in the World Heritage Convention; the idea that humanity stands united in all its diversity around shared values; the idea that all cultures are different but that difference does not divide—it unites.