The preservation of the cultural heritage of mankind


- What are the specific initiatives done to preserve the common heritage of mankind?

Many institutions are working to preserve the common heritage of mankind and promote understanding between cultures.
A non-exhaustive list would include, in no particuler order :

- The United Nations organisation that promotes culture, peace and education, realising that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed” and “ignorance of each other's ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war”; UNESCO.

- The World Monuments Fund, since 1965; whose mission is to protect “the cultural treasures that have been entrusted to us are under constant attack by time, neglect, natural forces, and human actions. Preserving this heritage has—from the beginning—been the overriding mission of World Monuments Fund, as we work with local partners around the globe to provide financial and technical support for preservation, restoration, and long-term stewardship”.

- ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, since 1965 works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places. It is the only global non-government organisation of this kind, which is dedicated to promoting the application of theory, methodology, and scientific techniques to the conservation of the architectural and archaeological heritage.

- Since 1996, Blue Shield International, often referred to as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross, was formed in response to the changes in international law and today works globally to protect cultural heritage in emergency situations. A non-governmental, non-profit, international organisation committed to the protection of heritage across the world. This includes museums, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries and audio-visual material, and significant natural areas, as well as intangible heritage.

- Ancient Worlds Now: A Future for the Past, an initiative by the J. Paul Getty Trust to promote a greater understanding of the world's cultural heritage and its universal value to society, including far-reaching education, research, and conservation efforts.

- The Conflict Culture Research Network of the Penn Museum, and the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative are engaged in research about why, when, and by whom cultural heritage is targeted during conflict. Despite the significant scholarship about the nature of violence, the causes of war, and violations of civil and political rights, very little consideration has been given to cultural loss during periods of conflict. This absence of scholarly attention has impoverished out theories about conflict, our ability to explain why culture is targeted by armed actors, and our understanding of how people live through periods of war.

- The 2001 Proceedings of the Doha Conference of Ulamâ on Islam and Cultural Heritage, an initiative to underscore the need to pursue the dialogue among cultures and civilisations on the basis of mutual respect and tolerance and to endeavour to preserve the heritage and to ensure the return of stolen cultural property.

- Following the Louvre museum's Fifty proposals to protect the cultural heritage of humanity in 2015, ALIPH, the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas Foundation was created. Its areas of intervention are preventive protection, to limit the risks of destruction, emergency measures to ensure the security of heritage, and post-conflict actions to enable local populations to once again enjoy their cultural heritage.

- The Victoria and Albert Museum Culture in Crisis Portal, an initiative that brings together those with a shared interest in protecting cultural heritage, providing a forum for sharing information, inspiring and supporting action and raising public awareness.

- Heritage for Peace, an international group of heritage workers who believe that cultural heritage is a common ground for dialogue and a tool to build peace. Our mission is to support heritage workers, indifferent of citizenship or religion, as they work towards the protection of cultural heritage for future generations.

- ICOM, the International Council of Museums, an international organisation of museums and museum professionals which is committed to the research, conservation, continuation and communication to society of the world's natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible.

- Iraq Heritage, the Historic Buildings, Religious shrines and Monuments Commission for Iraq; established in 2013 to meet a growing demand for accurate, timely and professional information on the Iraqi Heritage and culture sector with particular emphasis on the all-important archaeological discoveries, heritage sites, caring for heritage, preserving future heritage sites, and the introduction of heritage into the education system.

- ICCROM, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, an intergovernmental organization working in service to its Member States to promote the conservation of all forms of cultural heritage, in every region of the world. It operates in the spirit of the 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, which states that “Respect for the diversity of cultures, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, in a climate of mutual trust and understanding are among the best guarantees of international peace and security”.

- ICCROM-ATHAR, the Architectural and Archaeological Tangible Heritage in the Arab Region, set up by the Government of Sharjah, UAE, launched in 2004, for the protection of the cultural heritage in the Arab region and to broaden access, appreciation and understanding of its rich history.

- The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, since 1965, photographing over 250,000 pages of ancient manuscripts; collaborating with over 550 libraries around the world; thus ensuring that manuscripts threatened by war, disasters, looting and neglect are preserved and accessible for future generations.

- Founded in 1950, the International Institute for Conservation, aims were “to improve the state of knowledge and standards of practice and to provide a common meeting ground and publishing body for all who are interested in and professionally skilled in the conservation of museum objects”.

- ARC-WH, the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, under the auspices of UNESCO, established in 2012 as a non-profit organisation that serves 19 Arab countries towards the promotion and management of cultural and natural sites by providing technical support and reinforcing the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention.

- ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives, initiated in 2014, is an international collaboration of scholars and institutions. ASOR undertakes projects to document, protect, and preserve the cultural heritage of war-torn Syria, northern Iraq, and Libya. Hundreds of significant heritage sites have been damaged since fighting began in 2011. Although the destruction of cultural property represents only part of the humanitarian crisis, these harmful actions threaten our common world heritage and cultural diversity. We have an ethical obligation to respond, and our project is part of an international effort to work with Syrians, Iraqis, and Libyans (and other peoples) to protect their heritage and cultural identity.

- SAFE Saving Antiquities for Everyone, whose mission is to create a space where anyone — whether on the ground in times of crisis or in classroom or newsrooms around the globe — can stand up, come together, and contribute to the struggle to preserve this irreplaceable part of our human story. SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone is a non-profit organization.

- APAA, the Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology, who seeks to develop a broad awareness and appreciation for Afghanistan's archaeological heritage, for the purpose of preserving cultural treasures to enhance national cultural identity as well as for the educational and financial benefit of current and future generations.

- FAIC, the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation, whose mission is to save cultural heritage for future generations, protecting it from decay and destruction. FAIC seeks to advance research and education, lead treatment and collection care initiatives, and deploy conservation expertise to where it is most urgently needed. FAIC empowers conservation professionals, strengthens cultural institutions, and engages stakeholders, including public audiences, as we work together to protect cultural heritage for humanity.

- Promoting Mutual Understanding, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, works to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange that assist in the development of peaceful relations. The ancient and historic monuments, objects, and archaeological sites of the world enrich and inform today's societies, and help connect us to our cultural origins. It specializes in the protection and preservation of these irreplaceable resources, working on many fronts to safeguard the patrimony of other countries.

- The Antiquities Coalition, works to protect our shared heritage and global security, leading the international campaign against cultural racketeering, the illicit trade in ancient art and artifacts. The Antiquities Coalition champions better law and policy, fosters diplomatic cooperation, and advances proven solutions with public and private partners worldwide. It is working toward a future when the past is preserved for the next generation, not looted, smuggled, and sold to finance crime, conflict, and terror.

- LCCHP, the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, a not-for-profit organization that fosters the stewardship of the objects, places, and traditions that define us as societies, nations, civilizations, and even human beings. We are lawyers, legal scholars, and law enforcement agents, but also anthropologists, archaeologists, architects, art historians, students, and others who champion preservation through the justice system. Through our educational programs and resources, we are also working to prepare a new generation of advocates, as well as educate the public.

- Yale University's Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, a research collaborative, dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of material culture. Our work connects Yale students, scholars, and collections, catalyzing wide-ranging partnerships that bridge art and science in a unique space for learning, creativity, and innovation.


- Resources about the illegal antiquities trade, looting and restitution of art :

- Interpol - Cultural heritage crime, the International Criminal Police Organization. Cultural property is part of our heritage, history and identity. It needs protecting from criminals.

- The Art Loss Register, the world's largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectables. Its range of services includes item registration, search and recovery services to collectors, the art trade, insurers and worldwide law enforcement agencies.

- ARCA Association for Research into Crimes against Art. The Quest for Justice - Criminal acts against works of art happen more frequently than the public imagines. The stories of these objects range from the dramatic to the all but forgotten. Art works are plundered during war, dug up for profit, stolen from museums, laundered on the art market and sometimes held as collateral by organised crime groups. Art will always attract criminals. Not because criminals are charmed or fascinated by it more than other people, but because with it, there will always be a market.

- For France, the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation Resulting from the Anti-Semitic Legislation in Force during the Occupation, charged with examining individual claims presented by the victims or their heirs to make reparations for damage resulting from spoliations of property that occurred due to anti-Semitic laws passed during the Occupation, both by the occupant and by the Vichy authorities.
La Mission de recherche et de restitution des biens culturels spoliés du ministre de la Culture conduit les recherches visant à identifier et à restituer ces biens, et sur la base de ces recherches, la Commission pour l'indemnisation des victimes de spoliations (CIVS) propose au Premier ministre les mesures de réparation (restitution ou, à défaut, indemnisation).

- Trafficking Culture, an interdisciplinary research consortium with an overall interest in understanding the illicit trade in cultural objects, developing and refining an evidence base for promoting effective policy interventions to reduce this global form of trafficking. Based at Maastricht University, Oxford University, University of Victoria at Wellington, and the University of Glasgow to combine criminological and archaeological expertise.

- The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945, a central repository of information on Nazi looting and contemporary efforts to research and resolve all outstanding issues. It is a charitable body operating under the auspices of the European Association for Jewish Studies, established through an initiative of its sister organisation, the Commission for Looted Art in Europe .
The Commission is the non-profit, expert, representative body in Europe which negotiates policies and procedures, assists families to identify and recover looted cultural property, and provides guidance and information to individuals, institutions and governments worldwide.

- The Lost Art Database, registers cultural objects which as a result of persecution under the Nazi dictatorship and the Second World War were relocated, moved or seized, especially from Jewish owners. The German Lost Art Foundation was founded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany and the national associations of local authorities.

- The Holocaust Art Restitution Project, who works to document cultural property losses suffered by Jewish individuals, families, and institutions between 1933 and 1945 at the hands of the National Socialists and their Fascist allies across continental Europe; to conduct historical research into the wartime and postwar fate of stolen, confiscated, misappropriated cultural property.

- The Monuments Men Foundation honors the legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, known as the “Monuments Men”, and their unprecedented and heroic work protecting and safeguarding civilization's most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict.

- The Entartete Kunst database, by the Department of History and Cultural Studies of Berlin's Freie Universität , about the works of art exhibited during the 1937 Entartete Kunst “Degenerate Art” exhibition.

- The Cultural Plunder by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg database bringing together for the first time in searchable, illustrated form, the remaining registration cards and photographs produced by the ERR covering more than 30,000 art objects taken from Jews in German-occupied France and, to a lesser extent, in Belgium. Searchable by individual objects and by the owners from whom these objects were taken, the database is a detailed record of a small but important part of the vast seizure of cultural property that was integral to the Holocaust.