Arab network of Civil Society
to safeguard cultural heritage

About us

The Arab Network of Civil Society Organizations to Safeguard Cultural Heritage (ANSCH) is a joint initiative of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Heritage for Peace (H4P) in coordination with several Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in different Arab countries. It has been created, with the financial support of the International Alliance for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH), as a heritage initiative. The initiative works with government agencies, CSOs and non-profit organizations to identify, manage, plan and conserve archaeological sites, historical monuments, museums and other cultural heritage resources. Our work is now concentrated in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

Our Values

Empowering civil society

We strongly believe that civil society participation in heritage and risk management is crucial. Therefore, our projects aim to help local communities to become more actively involved in heritage management. Additionally, it also meets the demand for more multivocality in the heritage sector, which, in the end, will deliver better results.

Foster human rights and peacebuilding

Our cultural heritage projects aim for access for all people to their heritage, allow them to create their own values. By stimulating more diversity and dialogue within and between heritage communities, they will be able to appreciate each other’s identities, built on collective memories, and encourage mutual understanding of the different heritage views, which is much needed in communities affected by violence, injustice and poverty.

Sustainable development approach

Our projects are designed to comply with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid down in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We endorse the statement of the Committee on Culture of the United Cities and Local Governments (May 2018) that ‘Cultural aspects play a pivotal role for the 2030 Agenda to be successful. Cultural rights, heritage, diversity and creativity are core components of human and sustainable development.’ This goes for the safeguarding of tangible as well as intangible heritage.

Our objectives


To create a network of civil society organizations

in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen and other Arab countries called the Arab Network for Civil Society Organization to Safeguard Cultural Heritage (ANSCH).

This network intends to bring together representatives of Arab civil society organizations via a sustainable platform. 

This platform facilitates the communication between the participating organisations, and provides room for exchange of experiences, knowledge and resources.


To identify and define heritage protection projects needed in Arab countries.

The civil society organisations play a pivotal role in designing the projects. On the one hand, they should reflect the heritage values of the local communities through the engagement of local voices. 

On the other hand, the organisations will need to seek public support for their projects, through cooperation with other heritage bodies at the national level in order to enhance their feasibility. 

Next to projects on heritage safeguarding measures, reduction of illegal excavations and the illicit trade in looted artefacts, projects on education and awareness of the necessity of heritage and its protection, should be identified.


To enhance the visibility of the civil society organizations and their work

to their colleagues outside the Arab world. This is essential for any organisation to get funding and support for their projects, both inside and outside the heritage sector. 

This way, the civil society organisations have the opportunity to express their need and ideas on the protection of their cultural heritage.


To empower local communities’ participation in the management of cultural heritage.

To endorse sustainable management in the heritage sector, it is not enough to give local communities a place at the table when designing a project. 

To achieve better results, they need to be involved in the governance of the project with the assistance and support of the civil society organisations. If a project has a strong local basis, their chance of success will grow. 

In our projects, we will try to include all different kinds of civil society such as concerned citizens, professionals, volunteers, researchers, non-profit organizations, NGOs, schools and associated groups with indigenous people. In all our projects, civil society actors play a key role in the management of cultural heritage.


To foster inclusive social development.

Once community members get involved in projects, it will strengthen the social fabric of that community. Working together, sharing concerns and worries, grieving together will increase the resilience and mental health of the individuals and the community in its entirety. 

Our projects aim to include people from different local or regional backgrounds.
The more diverse the group of participants, the more sustainable the social development will be. Extra attention in our projects will be paid to gender as we strive for gender equality.


To foster inclusive economic development.

A good practice to increase ownership of projects is to share the economic benefits with the participants. Economic development of a community has far-reaching consequences. It will, among other things, raise the self-esteem of the participants and provide for better livelihoods; strengthening mind and body. 

To realize economic development, the best practice is to concentrate on small and medium-sized projects. There are good examples like in arts & crafts (traditional building crafts, handicrafts) and cultural tourism (diffused accommodation, slow tourism, and eco-tourism). Specific for cultural heritage is that creating economic alternatives will mitigate, if not stop, subsistence looting.


To promote protection of environment.

In heritage, culture and nature are not separated. Reconstruction and conservation projects of especially built heritage will have an immediate effect on the natural surroundings.

Strengthening strengthen local communities involves boosting their protection against natural hazards that, in times of climate, change becomes ever so important. 

Today Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is an integral part of heritage management projects, a practice that should not omit local knowledge systems.