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Italy-Unesco Agreement signed

‘Blue helmets’ of culture set up in Rome to protect the world’s artistic heritage. Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni and Unesco Director General Irina Bokova have signed an agreement to create an Italian task force and a training centre in Turin.

The “Unite for Heritage” task force will consist of specialised personnel (civilian experts and Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage) and private citizens with recognised expertise in the sector. Its task will be to assess the risks and quantify the damage to the cultural heritage, devise action plans and urgent measures, perform technical supervision, provide training courses for local staff, assist with the transport of movable objects to safe shelters and strengthen the fight against looting and the illegal traffic in cultural assets.

Italy was one of the first countries to recognise the need to protect cultural heritage as an essential part of defending cultural and religious pluralism, particularly as part of international action to provide an ideological and financial opposition to terrorism. To this end, it made a proposal to Unesco for the “Blue helmets of culture”, i.e. the establishment of a rapid response team to ensure the safety of cultural heritage and fight illegal trafficking. The Italian proposal was unanimously adopted by the UN body’s 38th general conference on 18 November 2015.

Italy is already committed to the fight against international trafficking of cultural assets, co-chairing the “Counter finance working group” of the Global anti-Daesh Coalition with the United States and Saudi Arabia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports over 170 archaeological missions around the world.

Today’s ceremony was preceded by Unesco Director General Irina Bokova’s visit to Perugia. During her stop in Umbria, Mrs Bukova received an honorary degree in International Relations from the University for Foreigners, in the presence of the Minister of Education, University and Research, Sen. Stefania Giannini, a former Rector of the University. During the day, DG Bokova visited the WWAP (World Water Assessment Program), a UNESCO office based at Villa “La Colombella” in Perugia, in the presence of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mario Giro and the Undersecretary for the Environment Barbara Degani.

Attending the event at the Baths of Diocletian were Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini, Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti, Minister of Education, University and Research Stefania Giannini, Carabinieri Commander General Tullio Del Sette and the Mayor of Turin Piero Fassino.