Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced Cambodia’s appointment as chair of the UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, a subject with which the Kingdom has more than a passing acquaintance.
In an open letter released yesterday, the premier said that the year-long appointment – a unanimous decision made during the committee’s 11th summit held in Paris last week – was a point of pride for the Kingdom, especially since it had just three years ago also been appointed chair of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The Kingdom is slated to host the 12th summit, scheduled for late next year.
Cambodia is steward of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, site of several clashes with neighbouring Thailand since it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008. While the temple sustained damage from artillery fire, restoration efforts have been undertaken with UNESCO in intervening years.
Anne Lemaistre, UNESCO’s representative in Cambodia, said yesterday that while she couldn’t say if Preah Vihear played a role in the decision-making progress, “Cambodia has proven to be an excellent chair of the 1972 Convention on World Heritage in 2013” and “has a good knowledge of the convention”.
The premier, meanwhile, said the appointment was a reflection of the government’s “wise policy in the cultural sector”, adding that the Kingdom will work with countries to encourage their ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention – an agreement that led to the establishment of the committee.