At a meeting of the Ancient Civilizations Forum on April 24, 2017 in Athens.

International Forum Established to Protect Cultural Heritage Sites

In the wake of unrelenting terrorist attacks and in the spirit of international cooperation and education—especially in the face of growing extremist and right-wing sentiments across the globe—Egypt, Iran, Peru, Bolivia, China, Iraq, Greece, and Italy are forming a coalition to prevent further assaults on threatened historic sites, reports the Greek Observer.

Modeled after UNESCO and other agencies tasked with protecting cultural heritage, the Ancient Civilizations Forum, or the ACForum, will guard against the destruction and deterioration of artifacts and edifices of ancient cultures. Its first ministerial meeting was held at the Zappeion Conference Hall in Athens on April 24. Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, whose government is spearheading the project along with China, said the group would run joint projects to promote “dialogue in the face of fanaticism, and culture in the face of terrorism.”

The forum plans to meet on an annual basis to discuss its progress. The chairmanship of the meetings will rotate from country to country. In 2018, the ACForum will come together in Bolivia, followed by Peru in 2020 and Iraq in 2021. “We’re only just getting started,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said.

The initiative comes on the heels of France and the UAE’s launch of a new UNESCO-backed global heritage fund that aims to raise $100 million by 2019. Announced in March, the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas, or ALIPH, also the first letter in the Arabic alphabet, has already raised more than $75 million.