MEASURES FOR PROTECTION OF CULTURAL OBJECTS AND THE ISSUE OF THEIR ILLICIT TRAFFICKING

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1 Committee: UNESCO MEASURES FOR PROTECTION OF CULTURAL OBJECTS AND THE ISSUE OF THEIR ILLICIT TRAFFICKING I. INTRODUCTION OF THE TOPIC Protection of cultural objects in the world is an increasingly important international and national issue especially with regard to illicit trafficking. Illicit trafficking includes illegally obtaining goods through robberies or excavations including illegal purloining during wartime, selling or trading these illegally taken goods or illegally created and sold replicas of original objects. These objects can be removed from land and water and therefore, can make the issue of regulating legal sale and prohibiting the illegal sale more difficult. In addition, in some cases, the opening of borders makes it easier for cultural objects to be smuggled across which calls for the need to be controlled in an effective manner. The protection of cultural objects is pertinent to maintaining the culture of a society. Illegally taking an object from the civilization lessens the value, diminishing their societies identity and history. If this continues, the background of many cultures will be slowly diminished because of poor conditions during transport and displaced artifacts. The theft, pillage and illicit trade in artifacts are the outright negation of the peoples. They reduce the history to the level of merchandise. They are seriously detrimental, and often irreversibly so, to the collective memory, social cohesion and mutual enrichment. Also, replicas of genuine pieces contribute to dwindling authenticity of historical events and records that makes our world so diverse. The protection of cultural objects also includes ensuring that no harm comes to them from fire or the environment that they are kept in. For example, in a museum with art and artifacts, camera and fire security systems are in place to ensure preservation especially in case of an incident. The recovery of trafficked objects is vital to maintaining the culture. Many times these objects are found by customs at borders between countries. Retrieval of objects from trafficking is a substantial way to retain traditions. However,... because so many museums in the US act of their own accord of return objects, there s no sense of how many total objects have been returned so far.

2 II. BACKGROUND There have been a few cases of successes of objects being returned to their culture. In 2007, there were fifteen stolen pieces of jewelry returned to Romania s culture. They were trafficked and found in the United States, France, and Germany. The people involved with the trafficking were put in prison. Similarly, in 2010, 350 coins, human figurines, and jewelry were returned to Bulgaria. These items were trafficked and found in the Canadian borders. Percentage Under-reporting of Exports of Cultural Objects to the US and Exporters Corruption Level, 2000 The items that have been trafficked can be found in any country, making the recovery process of these objects difficult and international collaboration necessary as well as the support of museums and other institutions to not buy items that without documentation of where they are from percent of artifacts on the market do not have documented provenance. Also, UNESCO has created a database called UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws...compiling on the Internet the laws for the protection of the cultural heritage promulgated by UNESCO s Member States INTERPOL is also utilized for the arrest and recovery of objects.

3 III. RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS, CONVENTIONS, ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS 1954: The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties in the Event of Armed Conflict- UNESCO has developed specific instruments of international law in order to protect cultural heritage. 1956: INTERPOL- Aims for countries police forces to work together to solve crime on a large scale more efficiently. 1970: UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property- This convention talks about laws in relation to stopping not only the trafficking of goods but also the stealing of these goods. 1972: World Heritage Convention- This convention assists with the way people and nature interact, with a goal of security for both the people and nature. 1978: Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation- This committee advertises anti-trafficking research, helps with countries that are victims of illegal trafficking, and wants to help negotiations. 1995: Convention on Stolen or illegally Exported Cultural Objects- This convention was made to be in harmony with the UNESCO convention in It works toward putting an end to the crime of exported cultural objects. This convention can also be called the UNIDROIT (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) Convention. 2001: Protection of Under Water UNESCO Convention- This convention investigates underwater cultural artifacts while making principles for their protection. Parts of these principles include the fact that exploitation of the objects is illegal. The main goal is to preserve the objects found. 2003: Database of National Cultural heritage Laws- This is a resource stating where an object came from. This resource also states laws. It is available for people to use in order to ensure what they are buying is legal and within the laws set forth. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): This is not a law; it is an organization that promotes education regarding different cultures and the importance of preserving it. UNESCO International Code of Ethics for Dealers in Cultural Property: This is not a law, but UNESCO hopes for countries to follow it by expressing anti-trafficking opinions.

4 International Council of Museums (ICOM): The ICOM is the largest council of museums, consisting of 2200 worldwide associates. It aims to preserve the artwork in museums, also the investigation. IV. MAIN ISSUES Border Control Illegally trafficked goods are transported across borders often and can be an issue especially with the difficulty of finding criminals and open borders. In addition to this, bad security can be a factor. The identification and education to the security workers of the objects is very important. It is difficult to distinguish a stolen or personal item. Regulation of Trafficking There is a UNESCO database with laws outlining what is not acceptable in terms of preservation of goods. There are logs of artifacts and police collaboration. However, they re a lack of awareness on what items are being sold illegally. Museums and other organizations may buy these illegally trafficked items without knowledge of their origins, or may know but ignore the fact that they are being trafficked to them. Also, items may be replicas. The lack of regulation in terms of making sure that all items being sold as well as being bought are genuine and done in a legal manner is detrimental to ensuring that cultural objects are protected and no longer trafficked. Protection of areas where cultural objects are being uncovered Areas of exhumation can be on land or in the water. These sites may be pilfered for goods to be sold especially since these objects have not yet been archived. The protection of major sites such as those in the water can be hard to protect from plunderers. In addition to this, the environment can damage objects and areas where cultural objects as well as cultural monuments are. Damage to archaeological heritage is almost certain when excavated cultural features are left exposed without any management plan or resources for their protection, conservation, or management. Decisions on punishment of criminals When a trafficked good is found, it is difficult to make a decision on the punishment because there are different laws in different countries. The different laws in one country may go against laws in another. How is it determined who will punish a criminal? Will the country who discovered the stolen object or will the country who got the object stolen from?

5 Mongolia_Brochure.pdf V. REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES! convention/ _question_of_illicit_trafficking_of_cultural_heritage.pdf

6 _question_of_illicit_trafficking_of_cultural_heritage.pdf convention/ URL_ID=13637&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html URL_ID=35283&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

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