UNESCO

Committee Blogs
Topic 1

Protecting Journalists 

Journalism has always been viewed with suspicion due to the dissension it can create between a government and its people, or other opposing groups. However, this topic has become increasingly relevant in the world today, as more and more individuals involved with the media have been oppressed in areas of crises—Ukraine and Egypt being two examples. Journalists have found themselves putting their lives and freedom at risk while attempting to practice their trade. In 2013 alone, of 128 reported cases of murdered journalists and media workers 99 were solved, and 29 cases went unsolved; countless more went unreported, including physical attacks, kidnappings, and sexual assaults. From these numbers, it is clear that the problems journalists face stem not just from the criminals that commit the crimes, but also from the lack of support and attention from the global community. Journalists face threats in a variety of settings, from non-conflict zones, to gender-based violence, to the risks of embedded journalism, to the prevalence of impunity for crimes that target media workers; while UNESCO and other bodies of the UN have taken steps to address these dangers, the risk to journalists in all areas of their work still remains far too high.

Topic 2

Preserving Syrian Cultural Heritage

In 1972, the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage established the World Heritage List, marking the beginning of UNESCO’s advocacy for the preservation of all global cultures. Since then, the World Heritage List has expanded to include hundreds of sites around the world that are deemed to be a significant part of the respective region’s culture that UNESCO has vowed to protect. In the midst of conflict and civil war, Syria, the home of six World Heritage sites, is in need of direct assistance from UNESCO in protecting its culture. Syria’s six World Heritage sites are not the only aspects of Syrian culture that have been put at risk since the start of the civil war. An often unnoticed part of a society’s culture is made up of intangible heritage, such as oral traditions, stories, and rituals that are practiced and passed down from generation to generation. Examples of intangible cultural heritage recognized by UNESCO consist of The Carnival of Binche in Belgium, The Woodcrafting Knowledge of the Zafimaniry of Madagascar, and the Palestinian Hikaye. It is in the interest of the international community to keep Syrian culture alive and flourishing. Because of the political conflict in which this cultural issue is set, the UN has had a difficult time finding an appropriate way to become actively involved. However, UNESCO recognizes that the theft, vandalizing, and disrespecting of Syria’s cultural objects and sites directly give UNESCO jurisdiction over the issue.
 

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