The mission of Ambassadors to UNESCO to Palmyra
On May 5, 2016, in development of a decision unanimously adopted on the 199th session of UNESCO Executive Board concerning the role of the Organization in safeguarding and preserving Palmyra and other Syrian World Heritage sites and on the eve of the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee a high-level international delegation visited Palmyra.
The aim of this mission is to be acquainted on place with the state of conservation at this Syrian World Heritage site suffered from intentional damage by the terrorist group “Daesh”.
The international mission was organized by the initiative of the Russian Federation with cooperation with SyrianArabRepublic in development of preliminary conclusions by the rapid mission of the UNESCO Secretariat which visited Palmyra recently.
The delegation was composed of the Ambassadors - Permanent Representatives to UNESCO from South Africa, Armenia, Algeria, India, Peru, Russia, Serbia, Syria, Zimbabwe and Philippines.
Representatives of Member States had the possibility to estimate the state of monuments and the damage to the cultural heritage in Palmyra. They organized the working meeting with experts, culture specialists, historians including directors of the State Museum of Hermitage and of ICCROM. They discussed measures necessary for the restoration of what is still possible to save. The participants of the meeting agreed with the earlier opinion of the UNESCO Director-General I.Bokova “Palmyra is a pillar of Syrian identity, and a source of dignity for all Syrians. UNESCO is determined to ensure the safeguarding of this and other sites with all partners as part of broader humanitarian and peace building operations”. They also confirmed the conclusions by the record evaluation mission of UNESCO that despite the destruction of several iconic edifices, the archaeological site of Palmyra retains a large part of its integrity and authenticity. UNESCO will work with its partners to adopt emergency safeguarding measures.
The permanent representatives paid tribute to cultural heritage experts and professional risks in Palmyra and urged the international community to unite its efforts in restoring damaged Syrian heritage and other significant sites in accordance with the relevant provisions of international law. They are going to share the impressions about this mission with the members of the coming World Heritage Committee session.
Representatives of member states were present also at a concert of an orchestra of Mariinsky theatre conducted by Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO Valery Gergiev, which took place in an amphitheatre of Palmyra.
The mission to Palmyra, as it was unanimously expressed by the members, is aimed to show the great importance attached by international community, including such a humanitarian organization as UNESCO, to efforts for reconstruction of precious world heritage monuments which were intentionally and barbarically destroyed by terrorists.
The mission became possible due to security measures (demining and logistics) undertaken by the specialists from Russia in coordination with Syrian authorities.