1. What is your role at UNESCO?
I am the Director of Culture and Emergencies in the Culture Sector of UNESCO. We support countries in addressing the challenges they face to protect cultural heritage in situations of conflict, disasters, illicit trafficking, and underwater treasure pillaging. In an armed conflict or disaster situation, culture is particularly at risk, owing to its inherent vulnerability and tremendous symbolic and historic value, especially for local communities. UNESCO has a number of international Conventions and Recommendations, which help our Member States address these issues.
In the field of Museums specifically, we work to sensitize countries on the Recommendation on the protection and promotion of Museums and collections.
This Recommendation is particularly important since it stresses the role of museums in social cohesion and development. In 2019, UNESCO published the first report on the implementation of the Recommendation by its Member States, and particularly on how it has enhanced the role of museums in their territory. Our team is also in charge of the organization of the High Level Forum on Museums, which advises the UNESCO Director-General on global issues linked to museums. The first session held in China in 2016, gathered more than 300 world renowned museums and culture professionals.
Let me stress that we have in the recent years been particularly attentive to the situation of museums in emergencies. As examples, UNESCO intervened in 2017 in Timbuktu (Mali) and in 2018 in Mosul (Iraq), to assist governments with putting in place measures to rehabilitate their museums and secure their collections. In September 2018, we advised Brazil’s Government with an emergency expert mission after a devastating fire at the Rio de Janeiro National Museum, and brought assistance to Indonesian museums after the earthquake and tsunami in Palu. Today we are working in partnership with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) to assist Croatia after the earthquake that recently struck the country, and affected around 20 museums in the Zagreb city center.