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Joint Proposal for Protecting Cultural Heritage in Afghanistan

Updated: 2021-11-23 08:26:21

On November 23, 1972, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was signed in Paris, ushering in an age in which the world has worked together to protect the treasures of human civilization. It is now a common understanding across all humanity that protecting ancient civilizations requires solidarity and cooperation. Whilst fully respecting the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage is situated, the States Parties to this Convention recognize that ‘such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to cooperate.’ Since coming into force, the Convention has played a considerable role internationally.

For nearly half a century, aiming to put the Convention into action, the Palace Museum has successively carried out projects including the surveying, mapping, and overall maintenance of the cultural heritage of the Forbidden City. Supervision and assistance from the international community have been integral to the results we have achieved. Today, as we recall the spirit of the Convention, the Palace Museum Director Wang Xudong has invited 21 distinguished scholars to issue a joint proposal, calling on all sides to step up cultural heritage protection in Afghanistan as a contribution to preserving and inheriting the world’s key cultural legacies.

As a key ancient civilization along the Silk Road, Afghanistan is home to two World Cultural Heritage sites — the Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley and the Minaret of Jam — and to artefacts embodying cultural exchanges between the East and the West. These treasures are testimony not only to the development of the Afghan civilization, but also to sustained cultural interactions along the Silk Road for over two millennia. They are a cultural treasure for the people of Afghanistan, Asia, and the world as a whole. Their protection will always be the duty of the Afghan people and the world.

Since ancient times, China and Afghanistan have maintained friendly and neighborly relations. As ancient civilizations connected by the Silk Road, the two sides have a long-term and stable relationship in diplomacy and commerce. They have also seen robust and enduring cultural exchanges. In March 2017, ‘Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul’, an exhibition featuring artefacts from the Bactrian hoard, arrived in China, and traveled to nine venues in eight cities, such as the Palace Museum, the Dunhuang Academy, the Chengdu Museum, and the Hong Kong Museum of History, attracting an audience of over one million. The Chinese people were able to better observe and appreciate the marvelous and glorious ancient civilization of Afghanistan.

In light of the recent major changes in Afghanistan’s situation, this joint proposal aims at better protecting the country’s cultural heritage, strengthening the world’s focus on its protection and research, and encouraging more cooperation between Afghanistan and other countries. In this way we wish to ensure these priceless bequests of human civilization endure forever.


Signed by


Elena Avramidou


Center of Hellenic Studies, Peking University

Bae Kidong



Varga Benedek


HNM-Semmelweis Museum and Library of the History of Medicine

Stephan Berg


Kunstmuseum Bonn

Joe Cribb

Adjunct Professor

Hebei Normal University

Duan Xiaoming


Hunan Museum

Gong Liang


Nanjing Museum

Imash Hajiyev

Doctor of Art. (Dr. Sc.), Associate Professor

Gazakh branch of Baku State University

Takashi Inoue

Specially Appointed Professor

Tokyo University of the Arts

Judith Lerner

Research Associate

Institute for the Study for the Ancient World, NYU

Lin Meicun


School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University

Antony Long


Acting Vice-Chancellor

Durham University

Kosaku Maeda

Visiting Professor

Tokyo University of the Arts

Masaaki Miyasako

Professor emeritus;

Project Professor

Research producer of "cultural sharing" group of Tokyo University of the Arts, Center of Innovation Site 

Tokyo University of the Arts

Jebrael Nokandeh

General Director

National Museum of Iran

Alex Nyerges

Director and Chief Executive Officer

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Su Bomin


Dunhuang Academy

Heather Viles


University of Oxford

Wang Chunfa


National Museum of China

Wang Xudong


The Palace Museum

Jay Xu

Barbara Bass Bakar Director and CEO

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

Yang Zhigang


Shanghai Museum


(Signatories are in alphabetical order by last name) 

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