UNIDROIT Celebrates the International Day Against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property

To mark the third International Day Against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property, UNIDROIT participated in a high-level virtual panel discussion hosted by the Qatar National Library about the efforts to counter the sale and illegal circulation of antiquities and documentary heritage in the Middle East and North Africa.

Marina Schneider, Principal Legal Officer and Treaty Depositary at UNIDROIT, together with Dr. Mounir Bouchenaki, Advisor to UNESCO and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), Dr. Zaki Aslan, Director and Regional Representative of the ICCROM-Sharjah Regional Conservation Center and Dr. Eleni Polymenopoulou, Associate Professor at HBKU’s College of Law discussed the various actions and instruments of their organisations aimed at fighting such illicit traffic.

Tan Huism, Executive Director of Qatar National Library, welcomed participants to the webinar and said “Although the illicit trafficking of cultural goods has reached unprecedented levels in recent years, the Library is strengthening its fight to stem this scourge through several initiatives and collaborations which aim to protect documentary heritage from being stolen, combat the illegal circulation of the cultural and historical item and provide educational and awareness-raising efforts on this important topic”. “I have absolute confidence in our ability to prevent the loss of rare and valuable heritage materials if we continue to collaborate with key regional and international organizations and professions to reach practical and realistic solutions that protect and preserve our heritage” she added.

UNIDROIT is a partner of the Himaya Project which, since 2020, has strengthened and coordinated efforts with international and regional organisations to combat illicit trafficking. Several initiatives are set to launch under the Himaya Project in 2023. These include cooperation with the General Authority of Customs in Qatar for capacity building of officers in the region, and the rollout of projects to combat the trafficking of antiquities in Afghanistan. In addition, Himaya has planned a regional awareness program for professionals about the risks of trafficking, and a collaboration with the Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project and Qatar Computing and Research Institute at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, to monitor trafficking activities on social media channels. The Library will also continue hosting seminars and training courses to raise awareness around the ongoing illicit trafficking issue and hopes global entities will cooperate to protect world history.

UNIDROIT is also a partner of the project “Enhancing legal and institutional framework of cultural heritage protection in Arab countries” together with ICCOM Sharjah, UNESCO Doha Office and INTERPOL which is, among other projects, about to launch on online course for Arab countries.

More information on the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention

More information on the Qatar National Library

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