Global Britain: How the UK is Protecting Cultural Heritage in Fragile States


Author: Lauren Pizzey

On Monday 20th May, The Coalition for Global Prosperity were delighted to host a packed room in parliament to discuss the UK’s leading work in protecting cultural heritage in fragile states.

The Coalition heard from senior speakers including; Dr Hartwig Fischer (Director, the British Museum), Tom Tugendhat MP (Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee), Tim Loughton MP (Chair, British Museum APPG), Lord Collins (Shadow International Development Minister), Shoshana Stewart (CEO, Turquoise Mountain), Jonathan Tubb (Iraq Director, British Museum), Stephen Stenning (Director, British Council) and was chaired by the BBC’s Kirsty Lang.

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The event, co-hosted by the Coalition, the British Council and the British Museum, brought together politicians, diplomats and leading experts in the field to discuss the important work that the UK’s Cultural Protection Fund is doing to preserve culture and artifacts in fragile and conflict states, in particular Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Theo Clarke, CEO of the Coalition for Global prosperity, opened the event discussing the proud history the UK has of protecting arts and culture in times of conflict. She introduced Director of the British Museum Dr Hartwig Fischer, who provided opening remarks on the work of the British Museum.

Dr Hartwig Fischer

The British Museum is committed to the fight against illicit trade and damage to cultural heritage. This is an issue which concerns us all.
— Dr Hartwig Fischer

The audience then heard from Director of Culture and Development at the British Council, Stephen Stenning, who spoke of the importance of the Cultural Heritage Fund, funded by UK Aid, highlighting that it was essential in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The rich tapestry of our cultural heritage is a global asset that we all share. I’m proud to see the work that the uk government is doing to protect this, particularly in fragile states where cultural history is often lost in conflict.
— Stephen Stenning

Stephen Stenning

Following opening speeches, the BBC’s Kirsty Lang chaired a panel of experts on this issue: Tom Tugendhat MP (Chair, Foreign Affairs Select Committee), Tim Loughton MP (Chair, APPG on British Museum), Lord Collins of Highbury, Jonathan Tubb (Iraq Director, British Museum) and Shoshana Stewart (CEO, Turquoise Mountain).

Lord Collins

Lord Collins

This is not just about protecting cultural heritage and development is not merely a handout. It is about ensuring we build a safer and more prosperous world where we can all live together securely.
— Lord Collins
Tom Tugendhat MP

Tom Tugendhat MP

Culture supersedes divisions and we need to do more to talk about what unites us all...However much you think we spend on this kind of soft power you can be sure we spend a lot more on hard power.
— Tom Tugendhat MP
Tim Loughton MP

Tim Loughton MP

0.7% is not only the right thing to do but is in our mutual benefit. It is a key means of soft power and has big investment and business advantages to us all.
— Tim Loughton MP

After the panel discussion there was an audience Q&A with the senior audience interventions from business leaders and former diplomats. Questions centred around the issue of post-colonial disposition in the Middle East, cultural diplomacy as a form of soft power and the need for diplomacy in the region.