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June 20, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - , No comments

UNESCO'S Headquarters in Paris Hosts Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention (June 20 & 21)

UNESCO'S Picasso Mural "The Fall of Icarus" 1958
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

UNESCO Headquarters in Paris is hosting the Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention today and tomorrow to optimize the international agreement's "implementation, appraise its effectiveness with particular regard to new trends in trafficking in cultural property, and formulate strategies geared primarily to improve its application".

This meeting is a follow-up to the March 2011 meeting in Paris which commemorated the 40th anniversary of the legal instrument designed to promote international cooperation to stopping the illicit looting of archaeological sites by limited the flow of ancient objects across borders.  The ARCA blog covered the 2011 event here; Mexicans and Canadians attend; Mexico's plea; Turkey's statement; and the speakers including Jane Levine of Sotheby's.

"The meeting will examine in depth the status of this indispensable legal instrument in the fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property and its relevance to the needs of the international community," writes UNESCO.

The proposed agenda includes a 2007-2011 analysis of the implementation of the 1970 Convention by States Parties; regional reports on the implementation and the evolution of the art market at the regional level; and proposals concerning follow-up on the implementation of the 1970 Convention.

From 2007 to 2012, 12 countries signed  the 1970 UNESCO Convention bringing the total number to 122 states which have ratified the treaty on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.  UNESCO and its partners created "legal, practical and awareness-raising tools" (Report of the Secretariat on its Activities) to facilitate and implementation of the 1970 Convention: 1) UNESCO's Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws; 2) basic measures concerning cultural items offered for sale on the Internet (proposed by INTERPOL and ICOM; 3) model export certificate for cultural objects developed jointly by the UNESCO and World Customs Organizations; 4) the publication of "Witnesses to History - Documents and writings on the return of cultural objects; 5) public awareness video materials and co-production of a documentary "Stealing the Past"; 6) continuing distance education ( for French-speaking countries; 7) model provisions on state ownership of undiscovered cultural objects; and 8) cultural heritage protection handbook No. 6 securing religious heritage.  Training workshops have been held regionally.

Five members of the European region who have not yet signed the 1970 convention (Austria, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and Monaco) will be targeted by UNESCO for 'awareness-raising, information and training actions in conjunction with the authorities of these countries and art market stakeholders where relevant (UNESCO).