3rd International Day against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property

14 November 2022

On 14 November 2022, UNESCO celebrated the 3rd International Day against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property.

This day was intended to raise awareness of the dangers that this scourge poses to the communities and people it affects. Illicit trafficking of cultural property has reached considerable proportions, particularly in regions affected by armed conflict or natural disasters.

Therefore UNESCO is working relentlessly to strengthen the implementation of the 1970 Convention, the development of model provisions for the fight against illicit trafficking, the revision of the Code of Ethics for Dealers in Cultural Property, the launch of a multi-year capacity-building programme for African States, and the promotion of an international dialogue for their return and restitution.

In this regard, in a few weeks, thanks to the support of the Kingdom of Sweden, two workshops in Central and East Africa will bring together nearly one hundred museum and law enforcement professionals to provide them with the necessary tools and skills in the fields of preventive conservation, and the fight against illicit trafficking.

At the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development MONDIACULT 2022 150 States committed to intensify the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property by ensuring the effective implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and by strengthening international cooperation; they also called for an open and inclusive international dialogue for the return and restitution of cultural property to its countries of origin.

The MONDIACULT 2022 Declaration provides a clear roadmap that calls for enhanced international cooperation will all partners involved, including INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO), UNIDROIT, the International Council of Museums (ICOM), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as the art market.

"Because there is no supply without demand, we are also turning to the art market, with whom we have, this year, increased our exchanges, so that traders in cultural property improve their professional practices. Let us recall the MONDIACULT 2022 Declaration, adopted by 150 States last September, which calls on art market players to prevent the acquisition of objects with no proven provenance."

Audrey Azoulay. UNESCO General Director


In this framework, UNESCO organized last 9 June, in partnership with the European Union, an international conference to discuss the prospects for strengthening interregional and interdisciplinary cooperation. Furthermore, on 22 and 23 November, the Peruvian government, in cooperation with UNESCO, will organise the second edition of the Cuzco Forum entitled Towards the strengthening of International cooperation for the Protection, Return, and Restitution of Cultural Heritage under the 1970 Convention. This conference will address, among other things, the challenges of raising awareness and international cooperation to facilitate the return and restitution of cultural property, as well as the role of the art market in strengthening due diligence.

We welcome the ratification by Turkmenistan and Malawi in 2022 of the 1970 Convention on the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, while inviting the other 50 Member States that are not yet signatories to do the same. The effective implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention also depends on its universality.

Permanent link: http://en.unesco.kz/3rd-international-day-against-illicit-trafficking-in-cultural-property