U.S. Support for the United Nations Arria-formula Meeting on the Destruction, Smuggling, and Theft of Cultural Heritage

Press Statement
Jeff Rathke
Acting Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 27, 2015

We welcome today’s Arria-formula briefing on cultural heritage at the United Nations to raise awareness about ISIL’s barbarous destruction of cultural heritage sites and theft of ancient artifacts in Iraq and Syria, as well as to foster discussion about how to address this crisis.

The heritage of the Middle East region is the heritage of all humanity. Since last June we have seen ISIL wantonly destroy irreplaceable sites such as the tomb of Jonah and 3,000 year-old Assyrian and Parthian sculptures at Nimrud, as well as systematically burn an estimated 10,000 books and manuscripts at the Mosul Central Library. It is our common responsibility to ensure that future generations are not robbed of their connections to the past.

Thus we welcome discussions led by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and INTERPOL Secretary-General Jurgen Stock and thank the French and Jordanian missions for hosting the briefing. We join other Member States in voicing our strong support for Director-General Bokova’s efforts to protect cultural heritage, including through UNESCO’s efforts to assist in the implementation of the relevant provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2199.