We are gathered tonight to celebrate the signing of a grant from the French Ministry of Culture to UNESCO/NEPAL for the conservation of Nepali art objects.
But I can't enjoy that auspicious event with a light heart, since a very important guest is missing, Madame Dina Bangdel who should have been with us. Her demise is a huge loss for Nepal and France, and overall for all defenders of heritage conservation and promotion. Let us have a thought for her and hope that the funding we celebrate tonight will be fully associated to her memory.
The rehabilitation project will rely on the long-lasting experience France has earned from its past conservation projects.
Back to 1793, Republican revolutionaries, among whom Abbé Grégoire, raised awareness on the conservation of French cultural heritage which was at that time threatened by political turmoil. Initiatives were thus taken to protect and preserve these great cultural legacies of the past.
At that time, France was one of the first nations to implement protection standards and to create museums in order to showcase these fragments of previous era.
Nepal might currently be facing similar concerns. Its extraordinary old and impressive heritage deserves to be treated with the most careful attention. Nepali experts and cultural institutions have already proved to be very active in the restoration process.
With the French contribution, Unesco will be able to share some of its expertise and technical competences on conservation of arts objects.
French experts already familiar with the specificities of Nepali art objects will be involved in this project. They will work on wooden and stone pieces and paintings in urgent need of protection.
Thangkas, for example, are testimonies to a unique and spiritual Art which abides by strict rules. As a reminder of the patience and merit they express, they should benefit from a proper conservation.
France is hoping that this partnership will provide a stepping stone for further cooperation. Cultural French institutions and the Musée Guimet have already shown a great interest in Nepali Arts. It would be a privilege for them to organize an exhibition that will contribute to bring international awareness on the valuable Nepali collections.
In the wake of this partnership, it is our belief that endangered cultural heritages from all countries should benefit from the skills and knowledge gathered by Unesco's international experts. More than ever, Unesco needs to confirm its mandate and role as a global intellectual and moral watchman.
Therefore, France will support the candidacy of Audrey Azoulay for the position of UNESCO Director-General. As a former French Minister of Culture and Communication, Azoulay has already voiced concerns on the conservation of threatened cultural heritage and has shown a strong involvement in favor of global cultural policies. Azoulay is determined to carry out the change that UNESCO needs to meet the challenges of our time including access for all to the tools of culture and knowledge, promotion of sustainable development policies and conservation of cultural legacies. I hope that your country, a member of the UNESCO Executive Board, will support her candidacy.
Yves Carmona is the French Ambassador to Nepal. Excerpts of statement delivered to celebrate a grant from the French Ministry of Culture to UNESCO/NEPAL for the conservation of Nepali art objects.