ABU DHABI, -- Organisations, countries, and established networks across the Middle East must work together to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts, according to a leading member of the International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, ICCROM.

Zaki Aslan, Director of ICCROM-ATHAR Regional Conservation Centre in Sharjah, said the preservation of heritage sites requires a multi stakeholder approach.

"It is almost preposterous to think that any single agency might have all the solutions to existing problems relates to preserving cultural heritage during times of conflict. That is why the overall approach has to be multi-sectoral and people-centred. We should not limit ourselves to institutional mechanisms but also foster links with established networks and communities in order to engage them in transition and peace building through cultural heritage protection and recovery," Aslan said last during the "Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage Conference, an initiative of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and French President Francois Hollande.

The two-day "Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage" conference was held on Friday under the patronage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO), and bought together international experts and representatives of the International Criminal Police Organisation, Interpol, and other organisations.

The recent establishment of a regional ICCROM office in Sharjah, supported by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has helped tackle these problems throughout the Middle East and North Africa, said Aslan.

ICCROM, the only institution of its kind with a worldwide mandate to promote the conservation of all types of cultural heritage, has initiated several dedicated programmes in the Middle East.

In 2014, it hosted the Sharjah Initiative, to create national policies and guidelines for risk preparedness and mitigation, which were formerly recognised at the Arab League's conference of Ministers of Culture in Riyadh last year.

Source: Emirates News Agency