Attacks on Gaza civilians and facilities are ‘unjustifiable’: Saudi minister

PARIS: Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the Saudi minister of culture, denounced the ongoing “unjustifiable” attacks on civilians and public facilities in Gaza at the 42nd session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris.

“We strongly condemn the continuous attacks on civilians and the destruction of schools, hospitals, and cultural properties in the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories,” the minister said at the conference on Friday.

He described these actions as “unjustifiable violations that are contrary to international norms and laws.”

The minister said the Kingdom’s condemnation of these practices is based on “UNESCO’s founding charter, which promotes international understanding as a prerequisite for preventing the recurrence of crimes, genocides, racism, and wars.”

He added: “Hence, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls for intensified international efforts to protect the rights of civilians in a way that contributes to the achievement of global peace and stability.”

Prince Badr, also chairman of the Saudi National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, expressed the Kingdom’s pride in its achievements over the past two years, which he attributed to the contributions of UNESCO and its member states in fostering international cooperation.

He also credited the Saudi leadership for its efforts to promote education, culture, and science, adding that Saudi Arabia has mobilized all its capabilities to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The minister highlighted Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to actively participate in the various executive councils of UNESCO’s programs.

He spoke on the fruitful partnership between Saudi Arabia and UNESCO and the launch of six pioneering projects through the Cultural Development Fund to positively impact cultural heritage around the world.

This fruitful cooperation resulted in Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee, during which 42 new world heritage sites were inscribed, he said.

He further highlighted Saudi efforts in the cultural sector, including the launch of the Islamic World Cultural Index Project in cooperation with the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The minister also spoke about the Kingdom’s achievements in digital competitiveness and artificial intelligence.

“We are proud to establish the Riyadh-based UNESCO’s International Center of AI Research and Ethics to improve capacity and the legislative data which reflects the Kingdom’s pioneering role in the field,” he said.

He expressed appreciation for UNESCO’s efforts in promoting world peace, building bridges for intercultural dialogue, and launching development, cultural and scientific initiatives to achieve the SDGs.

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