On November 24th and 25th, 2020, the National Heritage Board of Latvia invited UNIDROIT to an international online Conference entitled “Opportunities and Challenges of Art and Antiques Market Management”.
The event marked the 50th anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Prohibition and Prevention of the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 25th anniversary of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen of Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.
The aim of the Conference was to promote understanding among private representatives of art and antiques trade about their role in the protection of cultural objects, as well as to promote cooperation between public administration and business in the field of cultural objects by strengthening and developing the management of art and antiques market.
Marina Schneider, Principal Legal Officer and Treaty Depositary at UNIDROIT, took part in the opening session where she underlined how Latvia, although not being an active art market, strengthened its legal framework to protect its heritage and fight against illicit traffic in cultural property at national level with amendments to its Criminal Code and by ratifying both the 1970 UNESCO and the 1995 UNIDROIT Conventions. Both Conventions were ratified in 2019 showing the complementarity between those two instruments and the role of international cooperation.
The first day was dedicated to the instruments and tools aiming at regulating the market and the second to the practice of dealing in the art and antique market with a presentation from the Secretary General of CINOA of how art dealer associations are important to promote heritage through responsible trade practices, followed by a representative of the local market who presented the market and its challenges. Then the State police explained how they work to combat offences relating to archaeological finds and the National Board of Latvia presented a study on the best practices of European countries in monitoring the trade in art and antiques.
The concluding session of the Conference permitted the public to ask questions on the presentations and on the general issue of the fight against illicit traffic in cultural property both internationally and nationally.