History

The foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) is an independent Swedish non-governmental organisation dedicated to rescuing and preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage affected by conflict, neglect or human and natural disasters. We see our work as a vital contribution to building democracy and supporting human rights.

CHwB is neutral when it comes to conflicting parties, but not to the rights of all people to cultural heritage – now and in the future. CHwB works with cultural heritage as an active force in reconciliation, peace building and social and economic development by creating capacity, awareness and opportunities for preserving and rescuing cultural heritage in societies affected by conflict, neglect or human and natural disasters.

CHwB is committed to equality, non-discrimination, participation, accountability and transparency.

OUR VISION is that everyone has the right to enjoy, have access to and participate in cultural heritage.

OUR MISSION is to promote cultural heritage as both a right in itself and a resource. CHwB works with civil society and institutions at all levels to strengthen peace building, sustainable socio-economic and democratic development and the realisation of human rights.

Cultural Heritage without Borders was founded in 1995 as an independent Swedish non-governmental organisation to work in the spirit of the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflicts, natural catastrophes, neglect, poverty or political and social conflicts.

Background

Working with cultural heritage can help vulnerable groups recover their sense of dignity and empowerment, which in turn can increase the possibilities for reconciliation and fight against poverty.

The foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) was constituted in April 1995 as a reaction to the acute and massive aid that was needed due to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Destruction of cultural monuments was quite extensive and systematic, which made the world realise the urgent need for development assistance and protection. When a group of architects and conservation workers in Sweden gathered to protest, discussions were held to find ways to take concrete action and to suggest proposals for financing Swedish emergency aid in this area within the framework for Sida’s development co-operation.

Within this group of founding members the appropriate documents and statutes
were drawn up for a foundation whose aims were broadened to include not just urgent
action in the former Yugoslavia but also to “promote conservation of cultural property in areas ravaged by armed conflict, catastrophes or otherwise endangered as well as stimulate appropriate research.”

Because of the special importance of the 22 founding members’ involvement, professional experience and occupational positions, the Foundation could nurture from the very beginning close relations with various parts of Swedish society and cultural life. It was considered a great honour that the then president of the Swedish Red Cross, Princess Christina, wanted to stand as head of the founders, thereby clearly underscoring the sense of a common cause with humanitarian work in general. Other founders included three former Ministers of culture, two members of Parliament, head of the National Heritage Board, chairmen of both the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO and the Swedish Museums Association, presidents of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, the Archbishop of Stockholm, chairmen of the Swedish National Associations of ICOM (International Council of Museums) and ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) as well as secretary generals for the Swedish Association of Architects and the Swedish World Wildlife Fund.

Today

CHwB has worked primarily in the former Yugoslavia with building restoration, museum development and experience. CHwB has today (2014) three offices in the Western Balkans; Sarajevo-Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Pristina-Kosovo and Tirana-Albania.

Mandators

Members of the board and the auditors are appointed by four public bodies and organisations, which are the Swedish National Committees of ICOM and ICOMOSNational Heritage Board andSwedish Association of Architects.

CHwB Kosovo office has started its mission in 2001 with the project of restoration of 5 kullas (traditional stone dwelling) in western Kosovo financed by European Agency for Reconstruction.