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01 May 2012 Public Lecture by Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki : Protection of Cultural heritage & management from a global perspective"

In his lecture, Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki, ex-Director-General of UNESCO's ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) argued that in it its standard-setting capacity, UNESCO has produced several binding international legal instruments in core areas of culture, namely: cultural and natural heritage, movable cultural property, underwater heritage, intangible cultural heritage and contemporary creativity. To date, eight conventions, fifteen recommendations and six declarations have been adopted by UNESCO’s governing bodies. Through international cooperation, they cover the multiple and evolving facets of heritage. Over the years, these normative instruments have advanced forward-looking principles in the evolving global debate on cultural heritage and its significance for humanity. In this way, UNESCO has reaffirmed its role as a leader in the field.

Lecture came as Manama is celebrating festivities as the Capital of Arab Culture's 2012, during the Heritage month in the presence of H.E Minister of Culture, Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa and many experts and specialists at the National Museum, on 30 April 2012.

Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki said that both the Athens Charter for the Restoration of Historic Monuments of 1931 and the Venice Charter for the  Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites of 1964 provide important guidelines that have aligned the efforts of member states to essential objectives for the issue of cultural heritage protection and preservation.  Indeed, UNESCO has worked to promote a dynamic, global and evolving notion of heritage underpinned by the universal nature of human ingenuity and creativity. UNESCO considers that cultural heritage encompasses not only historic vestiges in the form of monuments but also, and above all, living culture and its innumerable forms of expression, whether they be cultural landscapes, outcome of interaction between human beings and their natural environment, or the components of our so-called intangible or living heritage. This category that includes the systems of knowledge in which the individual pursues creative activities such as the performing arts, rites and festive events and engages in related processes of transmission such as social practice, traditional skills and oral traditions.

On a material level, cultural heritage generates tremendous economic benefits through tourism and related employment opportunities. However, in addition to generating income, heritage also provides numerous intangible benefits. It strengthens the sense of identity and belonging to a community, region or nation. It can also reinforce social cohesion, dialogue, creativity, innovation. In areas stricken by civil strife or natural disasters, heritage serves to enhance reconciliation and reconstruction. Moreover traditional knowledge systems that make up our intangible or living heritage can serve as vehicles for environmental sustainability. Culture is a vibrant force that provides great spiritual enrichment.

It is precisely because of its numerous benefits that culture, and specifically cultural heritage, can play a significant role in ensuring sustainable economic, social and human development. He concluded arguing that by  improving human well being, reducing inequalities, and alleviating environmental risks as well as ecological scarcity,  we will be able to entail a cultural dimension. The cultural dimension of sustainable development advances a human-centric approach to development that reflects the complexities of societies and local contexts, promotes plurality of knowledge systems, and serves as a powerful socioeconomic resource.

Participation in the 43rd Fine Arts Exhibition Bahrain Map