Paris, December 21 – Progress Report: In its November 20 press release, UNESCO recalled its commitment to the protection of cultural property in accordance with the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, to which Armenia and Azerbaijan are parties.

Thus, the Organization proposed to conduct an independent expert mission on the spot to compile a preliminary inventory of the most important cultural values as a precondition for the effective protection of the region’s heritage.

This proposal received the full support of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, as well as the first agreement in principle between the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The member States of the Committee on the Second Protocol (1999) to the 1954 Convention, meeting at UNESCO on December 10, 2020, confirmed this initiative and confirmed the need to assess the state of cultural values in and around Artsakh. The Committee called on each of the parties to fulfill the conditions for sending the mission. Since November 20, UNESCO has made proposals and consultations on the implementation of this mission, which, according to the Convention, requires the consent of the parties.

“So far, only Azerbaijan’s reaction is expected so that UNESCO can move forward. The Azerbaijani authorities have been contacted many times, but to no avail. Every week makes the assessment of the state of cultural values an increasingly difficult task, especially given the weather conditions, which will worsen in the coming weeks. The window of opportunity with a ceasefire should not be closed. The preservation of heritage is a necessary condition for lasting peace. Therefore, we expect Baku to respond immediately and turn the constructive discussions that have taken place in recent weeks into deeds,” said Ernesto Otto, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Culture.