Friday, October 7, 2016

More on the French President's Cultural Preservation Fund

As François Hollande addressed a crowd gathered at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) two weeks ago, CHL tweeted about the French president's intention to create a fund to protect cultural heritage. What do we know about this proposed fund?

We want to create a fund, a global fund to support the safeguarding of cultural heritage with the ambition to raise $100 million,” explained Hollande. “This fund will finance the rescue of works and monuments to ensure the restoration and reconstruction of places of our collective memory and train specialists, archaeologists, curators, historians, so that we may always keep a trace of heritage.”

Vice President Joe Biden (r) introduces
President Fran
çois Hollande (l) at The Met.
Hollande first announced the creation of a fund in November 2015 when he addressed the general conference of UNESCO. He told the international body, “But we also need to involve private partners to ensure that public resources are not the only ones that can be requested. I propose that there may be a single international structure, clearly identified that can gather donations and funding, and establish an international endowment fund dedicated to endangered cultural property.”

In his recent visit to The Met, President Hollande reflected that the idea for the fund actually originated in Japan this past May when he was with President Barack Obama at the G7 summit. Hollande’s remarks followed an introduction made by Vice President Joe Biden. 

[Sidebar:  When the G7 met, it published an Action Plan on Countering Terrorism and ViolentExtremism, calling on nations “to enhance efforts to hinder looting and trafficking of cultural property originating from regions under the control of terrorist groups.”]

Biden's surprise appearance at The Met generally touted White House efforts to preserve cultural heritage. He described ISIS's sale of artifacts to fund terrorism while it simultaneously attacked cultural diversity in the Middle East, which the vice president called an affront to the people of the region. Biden asserted that trafficking laws targeting antiquities are rigorously enforced.

Hollande’s proposed cultural preservation fund is expected to be a joint project between France and the United Arab Emirates, which is why H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, was on hand for Hollande’s pronouncement. The pair are expected to lead a conference on cultural heritage protection at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in December.

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