UNESCO reinforces transatlantic network of cultural heritage protection in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa through capacity-building workshop in Brazil

23 October 2023, Brazil

From 2 to 4 October, UNESCO organized a capacity-building workshop in Rio de Janeiro for over 80 law enforcement, judiciary and museum professionals from 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. 

In line with the MONDIACULT Declaration, endorsed by 150 States in Mexico in 2022, this training aimed to scale up UNESCO’s ongoing efforts in developing regional and national capacities to fight against looting, illegal excavations and illicit trade of cultural property. The workshop provided theoretical modules and practical exercises to upskill experts to better protect movable cultural heritage. The participants exchanged best practices and information, further fostering regional and international cooperation in the return and restitution of cultural property.

"It is crucial to strengthen advocacy and action concerning the impact of illicit trafficking on the memory, identity and future of peoples. Indeed, the illicit trafficking of cultural property threatens the very essence of our identity, disrupts the transmission of knowledge, and undermines the enjoyment of cultural rights." - Ms. Krista Pikkat, Secretary of the UNESCO 1970 Convention

Fruitful discussions covered a range of topics, spanning from the ratification of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property to its enhanced implementation. The professionals agreed  that it is important to update existing national legislation and inventories, as well as to leverage existing tools (such as the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws, an accessible source of information compiling legislation relating to the cultural heritage). They also underlined the essential role of indigenous communities and emphasized raising awareness as a key prevention tool to protect cultural property from the illicit trafficking.

UNESCO’s key technical partners supported the workshop with their expertise and knowledge to help beneficiaries address different threats on cultural property. The contributors include the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, the Ibermuseums Programme and the UNESCO Chair on Archaeological Heritage in Argentina, amongst others. 

*This activity was supported by the Government of Brazil and the Fund of the 1970 Convention. We thank Brazil and the donors of the Fund of 1970 Convention: China, Cyprus, Etat de Palestine, France, Netherlands and Serbia.