Asia-Pacific Regional Conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the Illicit Import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
Communities and youth are keys to fighting illicit trafficking of cultural property
At its 50th anniversary, the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property has more relevance than ever. Emerging conflicts and various global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have only exacerbated the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage. Lack of security caused by conflicts or health restrictions has made it easier than ever to loot and move cultural property. Our increasingly digitalized world also presents its own challenges, as stolen cultural objects can be traded with the click of a mouse. With only 21 countries out of 44 ratifying the 1970 Convention in Asia and the Pacific, the low rate poses additional concerns. The region is fertile ground for the trafficking of cultural property due to its rich cultural heritage, its large number of global trading hubs and its emerging role in the global art and antiquities market.
Thus for the Asia-Pacific region, joining and implementing the Convention is crucial. Adopting preventive measures, engaging in the return and restitution of cultural property, cooperating with States Parties and non-States Parties using existing tools, and cooperating with UNESCO and international partners should be strengthened with the involvement of multisectoral stakeholders. Participants at the Asia-Pacific conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Convention emphasized the necessity to better protect archaeological sites, undertake capacity-building of customs and police officers, address internet trade of stolen cultural objects, and increase public awareness. Country representatives joining the Conference expressed a common commitment to move forward in this direction.