Royal Irish Academy Discourse: 'Cultural heritage and recent conflicts'
This Discourse by international cultural heritage expert Dr Mounir Bouchenaki is the fifth in the 2019-20 Discourse Series sponsored by MHC
About the discourse
The current ongoing human suffering that is taking place in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq but also with events in North Africa and parts of Asia, is occurring within multiple different contexts; social, historical, political, economic, cultural and religious. This Academy Discourse affords a new perspective on these issues.
Besides targeting human lives, conflicts have a profound impact on human values, cultures and religions. Increasingly, conflicts target symbols of culture to destroy identities and lead to the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage—but this damage can also be accidental. Looking back at the events that have marked the past 30 years, it is clear that the international community must continue to find mechanisms to improve response to these emergencies. UNESCO was created in 1945 in the wake of the Second World War to foster a new spirit of collaboration between nations. The preamble to its Constitution reads ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.’ When the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) was initially created in 1956, it was in this same spirit of international collaboration, to provide assistance to those nations facing the challenges of restoring and preserving the tangible symbols of their culture after the war.
Dr Bouchenaki will update his previous (cancelled) Discourse in 2016 with reference to events which have taken place in Middle and North Africa in 2018 and 2019. Dr Bouchenaki will speak in particular about the recent mission he undertook in June 2018 in Mosul, Iraq and the various meetings he attended during 2018 and 2019 regarding the situation in Yemen where his last mission dates from June 2014.
About the speaker
Dr Mounir Bouchenaki was elected Director-General of ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) in November 2005 and acted in such capacity until 31 December 2011.
His appointment at ICCROM followed a 25 years long career at UNESCO, where he was Assistant Director-General for Culture from end 1999 to early 2006. Previously, he had been Director of the Division of Cultural Heritage, from 1991 to 1998 then and Director of the World Heritage Centre from 1998 to 2000.
In his own country (Algeria), Bouchenki was Director of Antiquities, Museums and Historic Monuments from 1972 to 1981. Mounir Bouchenaki holds a Ph.D. in archaeology and ancient history from the Arts Faculty of Aix-en-Provence, France (1973) and followed specialised course at the Istituto del Vicino Oriente at the La Sapienza University in Rome.
Between 1985 and 2017 he was awarded the titles of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Officier des Arts et des Lettres, and Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. In Italy in 2002, he was raised to the rank of Commendatore of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity by the President of the Italian Republic. He was awarded in 2005 by the President of the French Republic the title of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.
In November 2007 he received the Médaille d'or du Mérite Culturel d'Algérie, awarded by the Algerian Ministry of Culture. In 2016, he received the Prize of Culture called Achir from the President of the Algerian Republic. In 2013 and in 2018 he was awarded the Medal of Cultural Merit of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Since 2005, he has provided his expertise, as ad hoc expert, to the Technical Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Angkor Site (CIC/Angkor).
Currently, Mounir Bouchenaki, is acting as Special Advisor to the Director-General of ICCROM and Special Advisor to the Director-General of UNESCO. He contributed between 2013 and 2017 to the launching of a UNESCO category II Centre, The Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage based in Bahrain.
He is a Member of a number of professional associations such as ICOM and ICOMOS. He was a Member of Advisory Boards of the Smithsonian Institute, he is still a Member of the Advisory Board of the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and of the MUCEM in Marseille as well as of the Conseil du Centre National de la Recherche Archéologique in Algeria, Member of the Academy Toulousaine des Arts de l’Orient, and of the Comité National Français pour les Biens du Patrimoine Mondial. He was recently appointed as Member of the scientific committee of ALIPH.
Bouchenaki is the author of a number of publications related to Roman Antiquity in North Africa and Cultural Heritage at large.
Please note late-comers will not be admitted