Portal de la Cultura de América Latina y el Caribe
UNESCO participated in workshop on the Fight against the Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property
 
    
Participants at the Cartagena Meeting. In the photo, Ms Alicia Sandoval Ruiz, in charge of the Culture Sector, UNESCO Quito.
15 April 2015/ UNESCO Office in Quito

In the city of Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia, the Meeting of the Working Group of the Conference of Ministers of Justice of the Ibero-American Countries (COMJIB) on the Fight against the Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property was held at the Training Centre of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). The UNESCO Office in Quito and Cluster Office to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela participated in the event to report on the present situation of this issue at the international level and the developments promoted by the Organization.

During 8 and 9 April, representatives of the Justice Sector and public agencies of Cuba, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain and UNESCO reviewed the following themes: the present situation of the illicit trafficking of cultural property, presented by Ms Alicia Sandoval Ruiz, UNESCO representative; protection against illicit trafficking through national and international legal instruments; the penal protection of cultural heritage; the need for regulatory harmonization; the strengthening of institutions and international cooperation as instruments in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property; international cooperation in solving cases of illicit trafficking of cultural property; and proposals for action at the national and international levels. The meeting came to a close with the adoption of a proposal of thematic areas for the elaboration of the COMJIB Work Plan.

The representative of UNESCO explained during her presentation the main aspects of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (link to presentation).

The aim of the meeting, which was, on the one hand, to propose concrete lines of action regarding the promotion of regulatory harmonization and the elaboration of international legal instruments to improve cooperation among countries thereby preventing plunder and facilitating restitution, and on the other hand, to promote the strengthening of the institutions in the sector by improving institutional coordination procedures, was fulfilled.

The countries that have shown their willingness to work on this line are: Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Spain, Peru, Ecuador and Uruguay.

The illegal trafficking and plunder of cultural property springs from Latin America’s enormous cultural wealth, but also from the institutional difficulties that exist for their adequate protection, maintains COMJIB, which causes much of this movable property to be plundered in churches, museums or archaeological sites , placed on the market of illicit property, crossing borders through clandestine routes, often in coordination with organizations linked to organized crime, and beginning to launder the money obtained from criminal sources.

For the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the illicit trafficking of cultural property is the third criminal activity in the world, after drugs and small arms trafficking.

  Related Link(s): Illicit Trafficking, Museums-Illicit Trafficking
     
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