The Ministers of Culture of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom), meeting in Florence, in the presence of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, culture, youth and sports, today adopted a declaration on the protection of cultural heritage and culture as a factor of tolerance.

Audrey Azoulay, Minister of Culture and Communication, and her counterparts reaffirmed the importance of culture as a source and instrument of dialogue and reiterated the need to preserve cultural diversity. The declaration calls on States to strengthen measures to protect cultural heritage, underlines the importance of international cooperation, as well as UNESCO’s major coordination role. It also calls on States to combat illicit trafficking in cultural property.

Beyond that, it is a matter of affirming that cultural issues must have their place at the heart of the priorities of our countries, as well as economic, environmental or security issues. Support for culture, cultural diversity and artistic expression is fundamental as a factor for emancipation, affirmation of civilizations and dialogue between peoples.

The Minister of Culture and Communication said, “It is our responsibility, as G7 countries, to continue to act beyond our borders, where the need arises, to maintain dialogue with other nations, other peoples.”

The G7 Culture meeting and the adoption of the declaration come one week after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution No. 2347, carried by France and Italy. The French Minister of Culture defended the importance of mobilization in New York on March 24.

This mobilization of the international community, which has just adopted two major texts, is also part of the continuation of the Abu Dhabi International Conference on the Protection of Endangered Cultural Heritage of December 2016, organized by France and the United Arab Emirates, and the donor conference held at the Louvre Museum on March 20. This has enabled the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict (ALIPH) to provide more than $75 million in support of endangered heritage and confirm the establishment of an international network of shelters.

In Florence, the G7 ministerial meeting was preceded by a number of round tables of experts from G7 countries and international organizations on international heritage legislation, measures for the protection of cultural sites and properties and for cultural education.