UNESCO Director-General and Heads of agencies discuss means to strengthen the fight against illicit trafficking



The UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, convened a videoconference call at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, with the respective Heads of INTERPOL, UNIDROIT, UNODC and WCO, to measure progress and identity future collaborative actions, in close coordination with the UNSMT, for the effective implementation of the United Security Council Resolution 2199 and 2253 (2015) on the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects.

The videoconference with the involved intergovernmental agencies, part of the larger network the UNESCO Director-General launched during the high level meeting on 1 April 2015, was an opportunity to ascertain areas of further collaborative action to be taken towards Member States during the course of the year. 

All parties agreed to continue strengthening information sharing, capacity building and technical assistance activities for Member States. All Agencies should integrate a component on the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property in their respective capacity building activities and within the frame of their particular mandate. There was also strong agreement that sharing of information, technical assistance and awareness raising initiatives should continue to be prioritized to support Member States in fighting the illicit trade in artefacts emanating from Syria and Iraq, and several high level events in 2016 were identified for this purpose . 

The UNESCO Director-General also took the opportunity to commend the participating organizations, as well as the wider network of partners (such as ICOM, ICOMOS, ICCROM, IFLA, ICA), for their joint efforts in implementing the Resolution 2199. Despite the lack of reporting which is a main challenge, UNESCO has already received 36 reports from member States and could extract factual data on trafficking routes and seized objects. A new global strategy for the protection of heritage, as well as several resolutions have also been adopted over the last year, to strengthen mobilization. Joint capacity building projects for judges and prosecutors have been identified as a key priority initiative for the next months. 

The video conference was also a first follow up to the recent adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2253, last December, building on Resolution 2199,  and highlighted, among other points, the importance of developing strong relationships with the private sector in countering the financing of terrorism, the laundering proceeds of crime and strengthening due diligence processes. In this regard, and following the decision taken at the Third session of the Subsidiary Committee to the Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention, a roundtable with actors in the art market will take place at UNESCO Headquarters end of March, followed later in the year, by an information meeting with Member States on the outcomes of the roundtable.