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October 25, 2023

Statement concerning Israel and Palestine

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) expresses its deep concern about the current violence affecting Israeli and Palestinian civilians and deplores the significant humanitarian consequences that the conflict has had over the past weeks. ICOM extends its sincerest condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and community due to the violence. 

ICOM stands firm in its commitment to preserving cultural heritage and recalls the imperative of all parties to respect international law and conventions, including the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two protocols. 

ICOM also warns against the potential increase in the smuggling and destruction of cultural objects due to the conflict in the affected region and recalls international legal obligations that work to prevent the illicit import, export, and transfer of cultural property, such as the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.

ICOM thus expects an immediate ceasefire in respect of international humanitarian law in order to prevent further loss of human life and safeguard cultural heritage – which is essential to our collective humanity – and reaffirms its commitment to the principles of peace, understanding, and unity through the preservation and protection of cultural heritage.