Today — Saturday, April 18 — is International Day for Monuments and Sites. It is a day for celebration, especially in this 2015: the 50th anniversary of the founding of ICOMOS and US/ICOMOS. And yet this year’s celebration has a different tone. Each week brings yet more shocking news from the Middle East where the Islamic State and its ilk have been intentionally targeting heritage sites as a tactic of war. Secretary of State John Kerry has rightly called this unfolding tragedy one of the most outrageous assaults on our shared heritage that perhaps any of us have seen in a lifetime. Tragically, the World’s response to this crisis is being hampered by the refusal of our country to pay its UNESCO and World Heritage Center dues, eroding the ability of both institutions when they are needed most.
In the face of these events, US/ICOMOS invites all Americans to join it in using this April 18th to reaffirm our Country’s commitment to the spirit of World Heritage.
First off, if you are near one of our amazing 22 US World Heritage sites, how about visiting it today? Sites from Papahānaumokuākea to Cahokia to Poverty Point have special Monuments Day events today. You can view the events calendar here: http://www.usicomos.org/monuments-and-sites-day-2015.
Our US program feeds into a global celebration with events from Mongolia to Mexico coordinated by ICOMOS. You can see the global calendar of events here: http://www.icomos.org/…/18-april-international-d…/events2015.
Yesterday, April 17, US/ICOMOS in partnership with the National Building Museum sponsored a Monuments Day talk by Mr. Mounir Bouchenaki entitled “How the Arab Region Views World Heritage and the Islamic State’s Destruction of It.” Mounir is the Director of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) in Bahrain. The Centre operates under the auspices of UNESCO with a mission to strengthen implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in the Arab States Region. Mr. Bouchenaki’s talk illustrated in graphic detail the shocking destruction of heritage as a tactic of war now unfolding in the Middle East but ended on a hopeful note about the power of education and the humane spirit of World Heritage to change the narrative.
An easy way for you to show solidarity with the work of Mounir and the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage is to join UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage campaign. Find out more at Unite4Heritage.org.
An exciting dimension to our Monuments Day program this year has been our social media campaign. All day we are joining the global community in tweeting in celebration of international heritage, and all month we have tweeted about the US World Heritage program. You can find our campaign at #MonumentsDay, #DiaMonumentos , #WorldHeritageDay & #JourneeDesMonuments.
Whether you click, tweet, like, post, discuss or visit, please join us today! We at US/ICOMOS wish each and every one of you a joyous April 18th, International Day for Monuments and Sites 2015!