United Nations officials say world cultural heritage sites are under attack in such places as Syria, Mali and the Central African Republic.
The head of the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova spoke at the opening of the group's World Heritage meeting Sunday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
She called for global cooperation in protecting sites in danger of destruction from war. They include the ancient cities of Damascus and Aleppo in Syria and Timbuktu in Mali.
UNESCO delegates from 121 countries will consider more than 30 sites eligible to be named World Heritage Sites, which would place them under international protection.
They include Mount Kenya-Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam, Iran's Golestan Palace, and Tajik National Park in Tajikistan.
As part of Sunday's opening ceremonies, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art formally returned two major 10th century art treasures to Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen was on hand to receive the Khmer Pamdava statues. He said preserving Cambodia's heritage plays a central part in reconstruction and economic development.