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PACE calls for destruction of cultural sites to be considered 'a crime against humanity'

PACE has called on Council of Europe member States - together with the UN - to look at creating stronger sanctions, including reparations, for "militarily unnecessary destruction" and to consolidate the notion that "systematic, deliberate and targeted destruction and looting of cultural property" be considered a crime against humanity.

Approving a report on cultural heritage in crisis and post-crisis situations, based on a report by Izmeta Dervoz (Bosnia and Herzegovina, EPP/CD), PACE's Standing Committee said the restoration of damaged cultural heritage sites could play an important role in post-conflict reconciliation.

The parliamentarians called for such reconstruction to be "de-politicised", so that technical experts could work without pressure from political or religious authorities, and for local people to be involved in repair projects, where appropriate. Swift damage assessment and emergency repairs following a conflict were important first steps, they said.