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Integration, Proximity,

Documentation, ongoing risk management, communication
and coordination with other first responders are essential
for the successful implementation of the steps outlined in the
framework. The workflows described within this framework help
to identify the areas of joint action between cultural first aiders,
local communities, emergency responders and humanitarian
The actions taken to secure and recover cultural heritage should
align with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality,
impartiality and independence. To support this ideal in practice,
this Handbook suggests the following set of guiding principles,
which adhere to those prescribed for humanitarian relief.
Introducing cultural heritage first aid 13
The guiding principles for cultural heritage first aid

  1. People-centred first aid
    Prioritising people’s needs and enhancing their ability
    to secure and recover their own heritage is integral to
    the design and approach of the First Aid Framework.
    Heritage places are often used to provide refuge to displaced people during crises.
    Cultural heritage first aid should take such needs into consideration and facilitate relief
    work. Moreover, statistics indicate that, in most disasters, local communities are the first
    to respond and secure their cultural heritage. For example, during the 2012 conflict in
    northern Mali, privately held ancient manuscripts were kept safe through traditional
    intercommunal networks. Often, communities have time-tested coping mechanisms and
    a wealth of knowledge (e.g. traditional building methods), which should be utilised in
    reconstruction and recovery.
  2. An inclusive attitude and respect for diversity
    First aid should embrace an inclusive outlook to
    assist in the recognition of elements that constitute
    the cultural heritage of the disaster-affected area.
    As individuals and as professionals, cultural heritage first aiders can unintentionally
    make subjective value-based judgements, leading to the selective recognition of cultural
    heritage, and increasing existing inequalities in the affected area. For example, traditionally,
    institutional responses have focused on protecting iconic or monumental heritage, while
    vernacular heritage has been largely overlooked.
  3. Context-specific response
    Understanding the wider emergency context is crucial for
    providing effective cultural heritage first aid.
    Every emergency has a certain context. Contextual analysis allows the immediate needs of
    the main actors and their respective capacities to protect cultural heritage to be identified.
    Assessment of the context also helps to identify risk factors that could cause greater
    damage to cultural heritage in a given crisis. For example, lack of security can increase the
    risk of systematic looting of cultural heritage sites during violent conflicts.
  4. Interlock culture with humanitarian assistance
    First aid to cultural heritage should be provided in
    conjunction with humanitarian relief and recovery.
    Acknowledging that, in any crisis situation, saving human lives is the number one priority,
    but also that people affected by disasters have the right to receive assistance to ensure
    the continuity of their cultures, the First Aid Framework emphasises the interdependence
    of cultural and humanitarian responses. Actions for securing cultural heritage should
    therefore be initiated in coordination and close cooperation with relevant government and
    humanitarian relief agencies, e.g. cash-for-work programmes launched by humanitarian
    organizations could be used to sort debris and salvage objects and building fragments at
    cultural sites.