France and UAE Kick-Start $100 Million Cultural Heritage Protection Fund

A weekend summit established a plan to protect historic sites at risk due to armed conflict.

In the center, UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum sits next to French President Francois Hollande at the international conference on protecting the world's cultural heritage. Photo courtesy Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

Representatives from 40 states approved the creation of a $100 million fund to protect cultural heritage sites from conflict and terrorism, at a weekend conference in Abu Dhabi. France has already pledged $30 million and the UAE $15 million, Artforum reports.

The Conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage took place on December 2-3, led by French president François Hollande and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

“This conference presents a very important opportunity to join efforts and to cooperate with the international community to protect national heritage that is increasingly threatened,” said the Crown Prince at the conference, according to the National.

“We are here to save what past generations left us to ensure that the past and the future can meet for a beautiful world,” Hollande added.

Discussions focused on how to prevent destruction of cultural heritage resulting from civil wars, terrorist attacks, and black market trafficking, in reaction to recent destruction and looting of sites in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Mali in particular.

The new fund will be managed by a foundation in Geneva, and is open to donations from states, non-governmental organizations, and private foundations. It will aid in preventative and emergency protective operations, the restoration of damaged cultural property, and increasing border security to prevent antiquities trafficking.

Additionally, store rooms belonging to the Louvre in Northern France will from now on be available to safeguard antiquities that are at risk due to armed conflict. Hollande urged other museums to do the same. Such safe havens will be called upon when a country cannot protect its cultural property on its own.

This diplomacy anticipates the long-awaited opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, France’s largest cultural project outside France, set for next year.

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