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UNESCO’s mandate and recent activities for the rehabilitation of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

30-06-2004 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 854, by Christian Manhart

In January 2002, UNESCO was mandated by the interim Afghan government to coordinate international activities to restore and preserve its cultural heritage, which had suffered from several decades of war. This article describes those activities and UNESCO's role, citing specific examples such as the Bamiyan Valley, Jam, Herat and Kabul. It also gives a summary of international cooperation and funding for the rehabilitation of Afghanistan's cultural heritage.


Christian Manhart
The author is program specialist in charge of Asia at UNESCO’s Division of Cultural Heritage. 
The cultural heritage of Afghanistan has suffered irreversible losses during the past two decades of war. For many years UNESCO has been helping to protect it and is continuing to take all possible steps to ensure that it is preserved. In January 2002, UNESCO was mandated by the Afghan Interim Administration to coordinate all international activities aimed at safeguarding that heritage, andfor this purpose has set up the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage. The Committee’swork concerns key areas such as the development of a long-term strategy; local capacity-building by providing training and equipment; implementation of international conventions; documentation and the creation of national inventories; reconstruction of the National Museum in Kabul with its conservation laboratory; rehabilitation of the Ghazni museums; consolidation of the Jam Minaret’s foundations; conservation of the Gawhar Shad mausoleum and Fourth and Fifth Minarets in Herat; conservation of the fragments of the two Bamiyan Buddhas; as well as stabilization of the niches and cliff faces and protection ofthe wall paintings in the caves.  

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