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Olive Branches: Cultural Engagement with Armed Groups

Olive Branches: Cultural Engagement with Armed Groups

A panel discussion with Ashley Jackson, Jolyon Leslie and Mehmet Balci

4 May 2022 14.00 BST

From our series Culture, Conflict and Recovery in Asia

The panel will explore the nature of engaging with armed groups on cultural heritage in Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. The destruction of cultural heritage by armed groups has gained increasing attention in recent decades, from the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan to the destruction of ancient Palmyra in Syria.

While the media has often focused on the desecration of historical sites and its material impact, the need to engage with armed groups transcends the tangible aspects of heritage.

Similarly, armed groups’ motives and interests are often more complex and dynamic than they are portrayed. This event will explore the nature of engaging with armed groups on cultural preservation, protection and heritage, drawing lessons from the panelists’ extensive on the ground experience. 

Dr Ashley Jackson (@a_a_jackson )is a researcher and author. She is co-director of the Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at ODI, and an associate with the Conflict, Security and Development Research Group at King’s College London.

Jolyon Leslie is an independent consultant based in Kabul. He has managed programmes in the Middle East and Central Asia for NGOs and the United Nations addressing reconstruction needs after natural disasters, post-conflict resettlement, urban recovery/development, and heritage conservation. He is an Advisor to the Global Heritage Fund.

Mehmet Balci is the Co-Director and Founder of Fight for Humanity (@FfH_Geneva), a Geneva-based human rights NGO launched in 2019. He has long experience of the Middle East and South Caucasus, including representing NGO views to the EU, UN, Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

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