Raiders of the Lost Art - Fighting Illicit Traffic

Insufficient prevention

Published on 10 October 2011

Author(s): UNESCOPRESS

Type:  Press release

Irresponsible behaviour of tourists, officials and locals, justifying the need for awareness-raising at all levels.

From Slovenia to Turkey, from Croatia to Romania, cultural goods throughout South-Eastern Europe continue to be stolen and illicitly traded. Due to insufficient prevention, many archaeological sites, museums, places of worship, private collections and underwater cultural sites have fallen prey to looting.The illicit trafficking of cultural objects also concerns the irresponsible behaviour of tourists, officials and locals, justifying the need for awareness-raising at all levels.

The Macedonian Ministry of Culture and UNESCO are organizing on 13 October 2011, in Skopje, an international expert meeting: “Awareness-raising, communication and outreach strategies: fighting the illicit traffic of cultural property in South-East Europe”.

The event will be the occasion to present the Macedonian version of a 15-minute video, realized by the UNESCO Venice Office and translated in 9 different languages of South-Eastern Europe with the support of the Federal Government of Austria, to enhance and disseminate general public messages on the fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property.

Recent cases of recovery and restitution of illicitly traded objects in South-Eastern Europe, illustrated in this video, shows us the way to win this challenge.

Unesco Illicit trade video.jpg
View the video in English above: Fighting illicit traffic of cultural property in South-East Europe [15:54]

All Member States in the region (Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey) have now ratified the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, while significant efforts are being made to ensure its implementation.

Important measures have been taken, although to a different extent, by many countries in the region, including the improvement of national legislations, the training of specialized law-enforcement units, communication campaigns, as well as an enhanced international cooperation between relevant institutions (ministries, customs, police forces, etc) concerning all aspects of this fight: from prevention, to law enforcement, to the restitution of stolen objects.

In this sense, the film and events organized by UNESCO are an additional incentive to raise awareness and further step up the efforts against illicit traffic of cultural property across South-Eastern Europe, which threatens to deprive humanity of a tremendously rich and diversified heritage.

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