OIC pledges to cooperate with UNESCO for protection of cultural heritage

OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen

:: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Monday pledged to cooperate with UNESCO in fighting intentional destruction and illegal trafficking of the cultural heritage in conflict zones.

Addressing the 39th session of UNESCO’s general conference in Paris, OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen applauded the UN body’s call to include protection of cultural heritage in the tasks of peacekeeping missions and other global programs.

Al-Othaimeen said combating terrorism and extremist ideology is at the top of his organization’s agenda. In this regard, he said, the OIC has launched “Voice of Wisdom” project, which seeks to spread the concepts of tolerance and moderation.

The OIC, Al-Othaimeen added, seeks to raise awareness among the youth about the perils of joining the ranks of terrorist outfits.

The OIC chief also condemned Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and its persistent attempts to alter the demographics of the occupied East Jerusalem.

He urged the UNESCO to take necessary measures to ensure preservation of the historical and cultural heritage of the Palestinian state.

The OIC chief also met the newly elected director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, on the sidelines of the conference.

Heads of both the organizations reiterated their commitments to further strengthen cooperation to ensure protection of cultural heritage, access to quality education and technology for sustainable development.

Speaking at the UNESCO event, the director-general of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Abdul Aziz bin Othman Al-Twaijri, said proper education is crucial to lasting peace.

Therefore, he said, UNESCO has huge responsibility over its shoulders, especially in the current global scenario marked by political tensions, economic crises and armed conflicts.

“As a result, millions of children are deprived of their right to pursue a decent education in a normal atmosphere of security and stability,” Al-Twajiri said.

The ISESCO chief said education is a must for economic and political development.

He deplored the state of education in the developing word. “Today, the number of refugees in the world exceeds 50 million, 25 percent of whom are children…

“While ISESCO is monitoring this situation and making constant efforts to ensure access to education for refugee children … international cooperation in this important area is still a very pressing need,” Al-Twaijri said.

He expressed hope that UNESCO will play its due role in this regard.

The ISESCO director-general said the world should take necessary steps to save the present and future generations from the dangers of ignorance, extremism and terrorism.

“A real mobilization is required to ensure security and peace and equal education opportunities for all …” he said.

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