As part of the Global Agenda Council on the role of art in society, ICOM was invited to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, from 23 to 27 January, 2013. This event brings together business leaders and politicians around the world, as well as artists, intellectuals, researchers and journalists to discuss major contemporary issues in the world in all fields.
Julien Anfruns, Director General of ICOM, participated in several sessions in order to highlight ICOM’s position and the challenges museums are facing on an international level.
ICOM assumed the role of rapporteur for a panel on the topic of museums as ‘New Centres of Innovation’, which allowed participants to reflect on the role of museums as drivers of research and development, but also as informal education centres and as institutions that provoke critical thinking and therefore stimulating dialogue. (See video)
ICOM also participated in a panel entitled ‘Objects of Culture’ during which it asserted the organisation’s position on the issue of restitution, based on the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums. The ICOM Code does not prejudge the outcome of litigation related to cultural property or restitution claims, except in cases of looting, theft or illicit traffic when its position in favour of the return of the objects in question is unambiguous. ICOM encourages an open approach in this type of conflict situation where discussion is favoured. During the panel, ICOM also spoke of the ICOM-WIPO mediation programme, which can assist parties involved in a dispute or in negotiation to find sustainable solutions and identify common objectives.
Finally, a panel on ‘The Future of Space’ brought together industry professionals and scientists who are working to promote peaceful and sustainable usage of the possibilities offered by space technology. ICOM highlighted the importance of satellite imagery in the protection of heritage following natural disasters or during conflict situations, and the relevance of its ongoing partnership with UNOSAT. (More on this issue)
The Global Agenda Council on the role of art in society will continue to exchange ideas throughout 2013, bringing together artists and directors of cultural institutions and companies to explore and promote the positive impact of cultural and artistic projects.