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A Proposal for Reforming UNESCO
UNESCO must become more proactive in its responsibilities and more sensitive to the wants of peoples rather than the governments.
November 07, 2007
The Honorable Director-General
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Org.
Subj.: Proposal for Reform in UNESCO Member Delegation
It is true that war begins in the minds of men and that ignorance of each other's ways and lives creates the suspicion and mistrust which has so often been the common cause of wars throughout history, as the constitution of UNESCO declares. However, what the preamble to the constitution does not address is the fact that the same ignorance sometimes ends in imposition of own beliefs and philosophical preferences on others. In wars, cultural heritage is accidentally destroyed or otherwise destroyed for the purpose of defeating an enemy. However, in cultural wars cultural heritage is destroyed in order to deny a culture by destroying its symbols. A cultural war is a quiet war which hurts no human, but the humanity, and kills no one, but the identity some people spent centuries to build.
Example are destruction of vast libraries and cultural monuments by the Arab occupiers of Iran in 7th century, unnecessary destruction of monuments by the invading Mongols and Huns, senseless recent destruction of 2000-year old Buda statue and a great deal of historical relics by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the ongoing and systematic destruction of Iranian pre-Islamic cultural and historical heritage by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
UNESCO under its current rules of representation and instruments of normative action cannot deal effectively in exercise of its responsibility to protect the cultural and historical heritage of mankind, while a great portion of the world is still ruled by autocratic governments unrepresentative of their peoples. While most valuable human heritage is located in such areas, UNESCO can never accomplish its mission unless some reforms, such as being herein proposed, are instituted.
During The Tehran International Law Conference held on June 24, 2007, a number of reform proposals to this end were submitted and discussed in order to be submitted to UNESCO for consideration. The idea is that UNESCO must become more proactive in its responsibilities and more sensitive to the wants of peoples rather than the governments. We shall no more witness destruction of cultural symbols of an outgoing regime by the new regime, a non-religion era by a new religious rule, an occupied country by the occupier, etc. All cultural and historical heritages must be respected and protected, because they demonstrate the trend of human advancements and achievements and belong to total humanity.
The proposals for reform in UNESCO are as follows:
Article II: Membership
Sec. 7. Each member nation is entitled to elect a Permanent Delegate to the Organization. The Permanent Delegate shall be elected in each respected country by means of free elections for a limited term of duty not exceeding four years.
Sec. 8. The Permanent Delegate of the Member State shall present credentials to the Director-General of the Organization, and shall assume his duties from the day of presentation of his credentials which must bear the seal of approval of the UN resident representative in said country.
Article IV: The General Conference
Sec. 9 (a) The General Conference shall meet in ordinary session every year…
We propose creation of a Legal Committee within the Organization to function under the direction of the Director-General. The function of the Legal Committee shall be to monitor compliance to the rules of preservation and protection of historical and cultural heritage, and to receive and investigate complaints of non-compliance, negligent or willful destruction of such heritage and illegal transport of historical relics and artifacts.
The Legal Committee shall be empowered to refer serious cases of non-compliance to the Executive Board for appropriate action. Executive Board action may be in forms of Statement or Resolution. Severe cases of willful and/or systematic destruction may be referred to the UN Security Council or the International Criminal Court.
Although all above proposals require further study and collaboration for making them acceptable and operable, we believe that the time has come for the cultural crimes dealing with human civilization be treated as being not less important than the physical crimes dealing with lives.
Pasargad Heritage Foundation
Researched and prepared by: Kourosh Zaïm
Head of PHF’s Research Department
Contributed by: M. A. Dadkhah and Shokooh Mirzadegi
Members of PHF’s Board of Directors