National Monuments Service Engagement with UNESCO on Global Heritage Matters

Posted on 7 March 2024

National Monuments Service was pleased to recently accompany Minister of State with responsibility for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD to UNESCO HQ for a series of meetings and engagements around Ireland’s commitment to support UNESCO’s important World Heritage activities.

Alongside Ireland’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO, meetings were held with the Director of the World Heritage Centre, Mr Lazare Eloundou Assomo and with officials from the UNESCO Culture and Emergencies Entity.

Matters discussed included Ireland’s ongoing support for the work of UNESCO across the globe, and updates on Ireland’s implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Progress in terms of ratifying various international conventions arising from enactment of the recent Historic and Archaeological Heritage and Miscellaneous Provisions  Act was also discussed.

Matters raised at meetings included:

  • A contribution by Ireland through National Monuments Service of €100,000 to a special account to support work to monitor and protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Gaza.
  • An update on development of a World Heritage Strategy for Ireland which we will put out to public consultation shortly, and steps being taken to progress Ireland’s Word Heritage Tentative List towards nomination.
  • Ongoing support for UNESCO’s work with Small Island and Developing States (SIDS), aligning with Ireland’s Strategy for Partnership with SIDS, including funding by NMS for the development of a dedicated World Heritage Strategy for SIDS.
  • Funding of five online Masters in World Heritage University College Dublin targeted at SIDs beginning September 2024.
  • Funding to ICCROM to establish World Heritage Leadership Programme scholarships to support SIDS participants.
  • Ongoing support through NMS  to UNESCO World Heritage Centre for Capacity Building, including preparation of world heritage manuals, with a focus of lesser developed countries with World Heritage ambitions.
  • Ongoing support by Ireland to UNESCO on addressing climate change driven heritage impacts, including implementation of UNESCO Policy on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties.
  • Update on commencement of Ireland’s Historic and Archaeological Heritage and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 which will enable Ireland to ratify the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage and the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
  • Update of development by NMS and the National Museum of Ireland of a National Strategy on the Management and Protection  of Underwater Cultural Heritage in Ireland.
  • Update of implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and on the work of Ireland’s National Advisory Committee, as well as Ireland’s continuing financial support to the Fund for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

These important engagements with UNESCO ended with the official opening in the Salle des Pas Perdus at UNESCO HQ by Minister Malcolm Noonan, Ambassador Gerard Keown and World Heritage Director Lazare Eloundou Assomo of ‘Monuments in Focus: A Visual Exploration of Ireland’s Archaeological Heritage’. This photographic  exhibition in partnership with UNESCO was displayed and featured photographs by NMS Senior photographer John Lalor of some of Ireland’s most iconic archaeological monuments managed by Ireland’s Office of Public Works, all presented as testimony to Ireland’s commitment to safeguard and protect cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.

Director Lazare Eloundou Assomo and Minister Malcolm Noonan at launch of Monuments in Focus in Paris
Minister Malcolm Noonan and Michael MacDonagh, Chief Archaeologist at Monuments in Focus exhibition in Paris
John Lalor (NMS), Michael MacDonagh (NMS), Lynn McDonnell (NMS), Minister Noonan, Emer Connolly (NMS), Niamh Crowley (NMS), John Knightly (NMS), Patrizia La Piscopia (NMS), Ambassador Keown, Shona Dunne (DFA), Agathe Hutchinson (DFA)