Television images of humanitarian catastrophes in crisis areas dominate the news coverage and unsettle us immensely. The pictures also include the destruction of the cultural heritage of countries like Syria, Iraq and Mali, which further serves to make clear the extent of the disasters. The German public is made aware of all the illicit excavations, plundering of museums and illegal trade in artworks that are a consequence of these conflicts and which are used to further the respective causes.
However, we are not just passive observers but instead are in many ways actively involved. The challenges of foreign policy long ago became the subject of political debate at the national and international level even if frequently the discussions were characterized by ineptitude and perplexity. For just this reason it has become imperative to critically explore the complex interplay of external policy challenges and domestic, federal structures as it relates to a science based preservation of the world cultural heritage and to look for a common response.
The Cultural Heritage working group examines which organizational and legal frameworks need to be created in order that Germany’s established scientific expertise can be made available on the international level.
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
ML = Member of the Leopoldina
Scientific Officer, Department Science - Policy - Society
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