United Nations : Calls for Respect of Cultural Sites
This follows calls by the United States President Donald Trump to destroy the sites if Iran retaliates the killing of General Qasem Soleimani.
The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Audrey Azoulay and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab have called on the United States to respect cultural heritage sites. Their call comes on the heels of threats from President Donald Trump to destroy 52 sites amongst which are cultural heritages.
According to the BBC, the United States President in a tweet said “the US had identified 52 Iranian sites, some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture they would be "hit very fast and hard" if Tehran carried out revenge attacks on US interests or personnel.
In a statement the UN’s cultural organisation said such sites are protected by international conventions. The US and Iran have signed conventions to protect cultural heritage, including during conflict. Military attacks targeting cultural sites are considered war crimes under international law. The first of such conventions between the two countries was signed in 1954 protecting cultural property in the event of armed conflict. The second in 1972 to protect the world's natural and cultural heritage. In addition to these are other agreements such as the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 2017 United Nations Security Council resolution 2347, which “condemns the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, including the destruction of religious sites and artefacts, and the looting and smuggling of cultural property from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites, notably by terrorist groups”.
Iran it should be noted that Iran is home to two dozen Unesco World Heritage sites. These are landmarks the UN body believes need preserving for their cultural, historic or scientific significance. Some of them include, Persepolis, the capital of the ancient Persian Achaemenid Empire, whose earliest remains date back to the 6th Century BC; the Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the city of Isfahan, which was built in the early 17th Century and is one of the largest city squares in the world, and the Golestan Palace in Tehran, the residence and seat of power for the Qajar dynasty which ruled Iran from 1785 to 1925.