Since the first Statement Concerning Israel and Palestine made on 25 October 2023, ICOM has continued to witness with great sadness and concern the ongoing and expanding violence and deplores the ever-increasing number of people whose lives have been lost. ICOM stands firmly against any actions that endanger civilians and expresses its deepest solidarity with those who are suffering.
It is thus in this spirit of respect for human life and experience that ICOM recalls, once again, the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict – to which both Israel and Palestine are parties – and the obligation under which all parties must protect and respect civilians and civilian property, including their cultural heritage. Further to this, ICOM reminds all parties of Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that the protection and promotion of culture is a human rights imperative.
ICOM therefore considers the damage to and targeted strikes against museums and cultural sites unacceptable and in distinct violation of international humanitarian law and, indeed, humanity at large. As such, ICOM, once again, calls for the immediate cessation of any actions that puts civilians in danger and their cultural heritage at risk of damage, destruction, theft, looting, or illicit trafficking.
In light of this, ICOM also wishes to extend its solidarity to all peoples across the region and draw public attention to the many others in danger and experiencing violence across the world. ICOM continues to support international efforts that work to protect people and their heritage in such situations, and together with partner NGOs and IGOs, continues to develop and disseminate resources and programmes, including Emergency Preparedness and Response. These programs and resources aim to support museum professionals in protecting museums and cultural heritage in general, and ICOM hopes that they will contribute to the reconstruction of peace.