Director-General highlights contribution of culture to reconciliation during visit to Cambodia

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, visited Cambodia from 4 to 6 December on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the creation of the International Committee for Cooperation for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor). Ms Azoulay took part in the opening ceremonies of the 31st session of the Committe Alongside Prime Minister Hun Sen in the presence of representatives of the Japanese and French governments and the APSARA National Authority.

"Angkor is a reminder that culture can be the cement of peace and reconciliation," she said. "At a time when UNESCO is launching a major campaign in Mosul, Iraq, the example of Angkor inspires us and compels us never to forget that restoring a people's memory also means restoring some of its humanity to the whole world."

The Diector-General also took part in the closing ceremony led by King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia on the Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom.

During her visit, Ms Azoulay was received by the King who expressed gratitude for the generous and multifaceted cooperation with UNESCO. The Director-General stressed the importance of transmission and training, which are essential to sustain this model of multilateral cooperation for the safeguarding and development of the site of Angkor, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992.

In Phnom Penh, the Director-General met women benefiting from the literacy programme in the Top Summit Garment factory. Created in 2010, the programme is now carried out in 25 plants in Cambodia. In 2018, nearly 1,000 women participated in this pioneering and growing initiative.

Finally, Ms Azoulay visited the Tuol Sleng Khmer Genocide Museum, with Cambodia's Minister of Culture Phoeurng Sackona, and a survivor of the genocide who testified about his detention conditions. UNESCO supports the essential work of digitizing the archives of the Cambodian genocide, notably thanks to funding from Korea International Cooperation Agency (Republic of Korea) with the aim of preserving Cambodia’s and the world’s memory.


Speech of UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the ICC-Angkor