8th IWHC Meeting kicks off: Review of technical reports on Israeli aggressions against Al-Aqsa Mosque and its vicinity and examination of inscription files of heritage sites

Rabat: 18/06/2019

8th IWHC Meeting kicks off: Review of technical reports on Israeli aggressions against Al-Aqsa Mosque and its vicinity and examination of inscription files of heritage sites

Today morning, the 8th Meeting of the Islamic World Heritage Committee (IWHC) kicked off, at the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). The meeting, being held by ISESCO at its headquarters, on 18-19 June 2019, brought together the representatives of the following Member States of the Committee: Kuwait, Mauritania, Indonesia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, in addition to the representative of the Scientific Commission from Kingdom of Morocco.

The Meeting’s opening session was chaired by ISESCO Deputy Director General, Dr. Amina Al-Hajri, wherein she gave an address reaffirming that safeguarding and rehabilitating heritage is not a technical work that only entails maintenance, restoration, cataloging and documentation.  “It is rather a quintessentially civilizational and moral responsibility which should be at the forefront of our action plans, given the key role of heritage in preserving collective memory and protecting peoples’ identity”, Dr. Al-Hajri maintained. She added that the magnitude of this responsibility intensifies due to negligence and mismanagement or due to destruction of historic building and archeological landmarks in many parts of the Islamic world because of conflicts and wars. “This is also a heavy responsibility in light of the looting, trafficking and illicit trade of artwork and archeological artifacts; the piracy of our intangible heritage as a result of the negative aspects of globalization and its greedy cultural industry, or the threat of distortion due to racial fanaticism, zealotry and extremism, in contradiction to the principles of respecting pluralism and cultural diversity”, the Deputy Director General stated. Dr. Al-Hajri also talked about the great threats to cultural and civilizational heritage in Al-Quds Al-Sharif as a result of the violations, Judaization and illegal excavations perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces, in blatant defiance of international legitimacy.

Moreover, Dr. Al-Hajri underlined that the IWHC assumes a key and leading  role in supporting ISESCO’s efforts in preserving and safeguarding heritage, be it tangible, intangible or natural; and strengthening its presence at the international arena and among the decisions makers concerned with heritage issues, especially the World Heritage Committee, in a view of projecting the voice of the Islamic world, uniting its stances, and protecting its legitimate rights.

Likewise, the Deputy Director General stressed that ISESCO, strives to strongly activate its role, through the Committee in its revamped version, and in application of the directives of ISESCO Director General, Dr. Salim Mohammed AlMalik, and his new vision regarding promoting the institutional aspect of ISESCO’s specialized committees. “What this means for the IWHC is striving to expand its powers; provide it with new working tools to carry out its tasks more efficiently, especially regarding the inscription of more Member States’ archeological sites and elements of intangible heritage on the Islamic World Heritage List; build the capacity of its capacities; and propose suitable ways for activating the contents and guidelines of ISESCO’s reference documents in the field of heritage”, Dr Al-Hajri said.

The Deputy Director General concluded her address by highlighting that the Committee is required to intensify its efforts to expose the violations and excavations of the emboldened Israeli occupation forces in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque; and widely disseminate the periodic technical and legal report that monitors these violations, seizing this opportunity to express her thanks and appreciation to ISESCO Archaeology Experts Committee in Charge of Preparing the Report.

The opening session was also attended by the Director of ALECSO’s Coordination Bureau of Arabization (CBA), and a number of heads of ISESCO’s directorates and centers.

In addition, a procedural session was held wherein the representative of Kuwait was appointed IWHC Chair, the representative of Uzbekistan Vice-Chair and the representative of Mauritania  Rapporteur.

Afterwards, Mr. Najib Rhiati, Director of Culture at ISESCO, gave a detailed presentation on the missions of the Committee and its role in promoting joint Islamic action with a view to safeguarding heritage in the Islamic world. In this connection, Mr. Rhiati mentioned a number of relevant reference documents, namely the “Islamic Declaration on Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in the Islamic World”; the “Resolutions of the 10th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers”; the “Bahrain Declaration on Safeguarding Human Heritage and Countering Extremism”; the “Action Programme for Promoting Islamic and International Support for the Preservation of Cultural and Civilizational Heritage in Al-Quds Al-Sharif”; and the “Proclamation of 2019 as Year of Heritage in the Islamic World”.

For two days, the participating experts will examine and adopt the report of ISESCO Archeology Experts Committee in charge of preparing technical and legal reports on the Israeli aggressions against Al-Aqsa Mosque and its vicinity; and the inscription files of Member States’ heritage sites on the Islamic Heritage List.

The Meeting’s agenda also includes the Examination and adoption of the Amendment to the Rules of Procedures of the Islamic World Heritage Committee; the Draft Inscription Form of the Aspects of Intangible Heritage on the Islamic Heritage List; the Proposal of the “Heritage Day in the Islamic World”; and the Draft ISESCO Logo of Heritage Sites Inscribed on the Islamic World Heritage List.

It is worth mentioning that the IWHC is a committee specialized in heritage, established pursuant to the resolution of the Fifth Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers (Tripoli, Libya, November 2007).

It is also noteworthy that ISESCO proclaimed 2019 as the Year of Heritage in the Islamic World, in application of the resolution of the Tenth Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers (Khartoum, November 2017). On the occasion, ISESCO called on Member States to take the necessary measures to celebrate this major event.