WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — The U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) has recognized the U.S. Department of State’s Cultural Heritage Center with the first annual Heritage Award for International Excellence. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock received the award on behalf of the Cultural Heritage Center on November 9th at a dinner and ceremony at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.

The award recognizes organizations, programs, projects, individuals, and publications that exemplify worldwide excellence in the protection, revitalization, or interpretation of the world’s historic monuments and sites; or that educate the public about global heritage or otherwise further the goals of the World Heritage Convention.

As part of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Heritage Center supports the foreign affairs functions of the U.S. Department of State that relate to the preservation of cultural heritage. Serving as a source of expertise on global cultural heritage protection issues, the Cultural Heritage Center administers the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the Iraq Cultural Heritage Initiative, and special cultural heritage programs. The Center also administers U.S. responsibilities relating to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Assistant Secretary Stock, in conveying the US/ICOMOS award to Cultural Heritage Center Director Maria Kouroupas and her staff, also presented a Certificate of Appreciation from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who cited the positive impact of the Center’s work and of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation: “Congratulations on the 10th anniversary of the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. This marvelous program has made a lasting contribution to America’s efforts to preserve the common heritage of humanity. On a recent trip to Cambodia, I had the pleasure of visiting Angkor Archaeological Park, where the Ambassadors Fund is supporting a project to help preserve the 10th-century Phnom Bakheng Temple, one of the greatest cultural achievements of the Khmer Kingdom. Your professional and personal dedication to cultural heritage is both commendable and inspirational.”