The Cypriot Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the Secretary General of the Organization, organized on 13th January 2017 in the premises of the Council of Europe Strasbourg_France a Colloquium “Initiatives to strengthen international capacities for the protection of cultural property and the prevention of illicit trafficking in cultural goods”
which was bring together high-level representatives as
- Government experts
- Academic experts
- Representatives of international organizations
- Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT)
- Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC)
- European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC)
- Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP)
- Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER)
- Committee on Offences relating to Cultural Property (PC-ICB)
to discuss building synergies, co-ordinating international co-operation and improving the international framework for the protection of cultural property. And prevention of illicit excavation trafficking in cultural goods .
The Opening of the Colloquium by Mr Thorbjorn JAGLAND, Secretary General of the Council of Europe،Welcome address by Mr Ioannis KASOULIDES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, then address by Ms Irina BOKOVA, Director-General of UNESCO
Prof. Maamoun AbdulKarim, Director-General of Antiquities and Museums presented a lecture in the first session of Colloquium
He focused on the impacts of damage of archaeological sites caused by armed antiquities gangs and challenges that DGAM faces in crisis; he spoke also about the procedures taken by DGAM in the case of saving the absolute majority of antique collectibles in museums and how DGAM transported them to safe places. , risks suffered by some of the museums located in the hot regions , and the pursuit through the local community to neutralize them and protect them from being stolen, and the role played by the competent authorities in Syria to restore more than seven thousand relics during the crisis before being smuggled from Syria.
Also he mentioned to the fruitful and constructive cooperation with the international community, represented by UNESCO, Interpol , international customs and relevant stakeholders to combat the illicit trafficking of antiquities smuggling.
At the end of the lecture, Prof. AbdulKarim appealed to the international community to carry out its duties toward Syrian heritage which is considered part of the World Heritage.
It is worth mentioning that attendees have interacted warmly with the extraordinary efforts undertaken by DGAM to defend Syria's heritage for all Syrians as united identity of the Syrians to defend their past and their history and identity.
Then the floor was address to
- Ms.Fatou BENSOUDA, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
- Representative of the competent Italian law enforcement agency
- Mr Hans-Holger HERRNFELD, Chair of the Committee on Offences relating to Cultural Property
- Ms Anna VENEZIANO, Deputy Secretary-General of UNIDROIT
The topics of Lectures handled the illicit excavation, export and import, acquisition, and sale of cultural property is a lucrative and complex issue often linked to cross-border organised crime. Beyond the fact that the illicit trafficking of cultural goods today constitutes a source of terrorist financing, it is important to consider the enormous damage caused by the destruction of cultural heritage to our shared history and national identities.as will as Protecting cultural property is a transversal problem which requires a co-ordinated approach between local, national, regional and international actors.
On the side of the Colloquium a meeting was held in the Council of Europe between the General Director of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, and Director General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria Prof. Maamoun AbdulKarim to discuss the latest process concerning the heritage of Syria where she thanked the efforts done by DGAM in these exceptional circumstances Ms. Bokova has expressed full support of UNESCO in order to save the Syrian heritage and to provide all forms of support to revive and preserve the old city of Aleppo.
This Colloquium will therefore be an important step in exploring innovative approaches to create synergies and develop capacities to effectively protect cultural property from wanton destruction and to combat the trafficking of cultural goods. Notably, in Iraq and Syria, Daesh has been plundering the region’s cultural heritage, deliberately destroying important archaeological sites and profiting from the sale of valuable excavated artifacts.