Chargé d’Affaires Jennifer Harhigh delivers the U.S. National Statement at the XXXII Session of the ICCROM General Assembly
Rome, October 28, 2021
It is a privilege to address you today from Rome, one of the world’s leading centers of cultural heritage. I would like to extend sincere thanks to our Italian hosts for your leadership across the multilateral space. I urge ICCROM to seize the Government of Italy’s offer, reaffirmed just yesterday, to expand the bilateral relationship to a more strategic level.
Next week our political leaders will convene in Glasgow to discuss bold action to keep a 1.5 Celsius degree limit on warming within reach. This follows the G20 Summit here in Rome, where climate change is also high on the agenda.
We must also be ambitious when it comes to addressing the impacts of climate change, which are already making the lives of the world’s poorest, marginalized, and most vulnerable more difficult.
The United States is strongly committed to tackling the climate crisis while partnering on a global level to protect our world’s diverse cultural heritage. We must act quickly, and this means taking advantage of ICCROM’s expertise in the areas of heritage science, community-centered preservation, and risk management for cultural heritage.
ICCROM builds capacity where it is most needed, while advocating for cultural heritage in the multilateral response to climate change, conflict and COVID-19.
We Member States owe it to future generations to proactively identify our priorities for ICCROM. The United States was glad to sponsor ICCROM’s respected RE-ORG program in Nigeria, for instance, via a grant from our Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
We also welcome ICCROM’s strategic thinking about sustaining digital heritage, recall ICCROM’s pioneering partnership with the Smithsonian Institution to provide “First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis,” and take inspiration from the Heritage Recovery in Mosul initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen, 2021 marks the 50th year of U.S. membership in ICCROM. Per the updated Scale of Assessment, U.S. taxpayers will again provide 22% of ICCROM’s regular budget, the largest national contribution by a considerable margin.
We’re also very proud of the contributions of Mr. John Robbins, the Deputy Administrator of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, who has served the past four years as Vice Chairperson of Council and Chair of ICCROM’s Finance and Audit Committee. We congratulate Mr. Robbins and the other 12 candidates for Council on yesterday’s election.
To conclude: In building countries’ capacity to preserve their national cultural heritage, we are in fact preserving humanity’s shared heritage. We see ICCROM emerging stronger from important internal reforms championed by Director-General Ndoro, especially regarding Human Resources. And we welcome Dr. Ndoro’s plans to ramp up outreach to ICCROM Member States. We’re in this together, and we have no time to lose.