31.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

Illicit trafficking of cultural properties is discussed in Seminar in São Paulo

The Ministry of Cultura (MinC, in Portuguese acronym) and the Institute Itaú Cultural organize, on 04 and 05 June, 2018, in São Paulo, the seminar Protection and Circulation of Cultura Goods: Fighting the illicit trafficking. The event will gather specialists and representatives from federal institutions of Brazil and from south-american countries. The goal is to share experiences and to discuss regulations, in order to elaborate a national policy of prevention and repression for this kind of crime in Brazil.

The event will count on the cooperation of the Representation in Brazil of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultura Organization (UNESCO in Brazil) and the Brazilian Committee of the Internacional Council of Museums (ICOM). It also has the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE, in Portuguese acronym), the Institute of the National Historic and Artistic Heritage (Iphan, in Portuguese acronym), the Brazilian Institute of Museums (Ibram, in Portuguese acronym) and the National Library Foundation (FBN, in Portuguese acronym). 

The illicit trafficking of cultural properties is a global issue; one that crosses borders and threatens the memory and the culture of humankind. Works of art, religious ornaments, archeological artifacts, book collections and historical documents, amongst others, are stolen and traded illegally, besides being used in crimes such as money laundering and even financing terrorism. 

According to the minister of Culture, Sérgio Sá Leitão, Brazil needs to move forward in defining a protection policy of cultural goods and that includes a joint effort between public agents and the private initiative. “The seminar will be the opportunity for advancing in the planning of a joint strategy, while also getting to know well-succeeded international experiences”, says Sá Leitão. 

Eduardo Saron, director of Itaú Cultural, highlights that “this is a systemic and global problem. The seminar will allow government and society to know and to appropriate the best practices in existence in Brazil and outside it, advancing the formation of a more solid legal framework and more efficient methodologies for the healthy circulation of cultural goods in the country.”

Besides representatives from the art market, authorities and specialists from the Chile, Peru and from UNESCO offices will attend the seminar. Also taking part are representatives from the Federal Police, the Federal Revenue (tariff), the Public Prosecutor Office, The Council of Financial Activities Control (Coaf, in Portuguese acronym), National Agency of Mining and Institute Itaú Cultural, in addition to organs related to the Ministry of Culture, such as Iphan, Ibram and National Library. 

The exchange of information and experiences of the different countries and institutions will allow the promotion the protection of cultural properties and the fight against illicit practices in the regional context. It will also cooperate in the advance of the implementation of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970), by UNESCO, from which Brazil is a signatory. 

According to the general coordinator of Authorization and Inspection of Iphan, Fábio Rolim, it’s essential to mobilize different actors in the fight against cultural goods trafficking. “Any strategy will need to involve three groups of institutional actors. First of all, the Brazil’s Federal and State Revenue Services - that is to say, those who perform customs control and the flow of people and goods. Second,  the police forces. And last but not least, institutions whose job is looking after cultural heritage and memory, such as Iphan, Ibram, National Library, National Archives, including the National Agency of Mining, which is responsible for fossils. Everything hinges on the synergy between these three big groups”, says Rolim. 

Ministry of Culture Actions

The Ministry of Culture has been leading the effort of creating a permanent commission on combating the illicit trafficking of cultural properties, involving Iphan, Ibram, National Library, the Federal Police, the Revenue Services, National Archives, the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Agency of Mining. Five meetings have already been done, aiming to debate and to define joint measures that will be under the responsibility of the group. The Ministry of Culture, through an international  cooperation project with UNESCO in Brazil, is developing a study to subsidize the elaboration of a national policy to fight the illicit trafficking of cultural properties.

Since 1998, the Ministry of Culture maintains, through Iphan, the Database on the Wanted Cultural Properties (BCP, in Portuguese acronym), that registers properties protected by the Country that have been stolen or that are missing, through complaints filed to the Institute. Once a cultural good enters BCP, Iphan contacts the Federal Policy, Interpol and the National Prosecutor Office. Iphan is also responsible for the National Registration of Traders of Antiques and Works of Art (Cnart, in Portuguese acronym), created in 2007, originally aimed at identifying goods with the potential for preservation. Currently, Cnart focuses on the prevention of money laundering and spreading information about thefts. 

In another front, the Ministry of Culture, through Ibram, makes an on-line database available, with public access to register missing properties from Brazilian museums, public and private alike, resulting from theft, robbery or any other kind of disappearance. The Register of Disappeared Musealized Properties (CBMD, in Portuguese acronym) exists since 2010. Its goal is to make it possible to track, locate and retrieve these properties. 

Since 1973, Brazil is part of the first universal international instrument to fight the illicit trafficking of cultural goods: the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970), by UNESCO. The Convention was incorporated into the Brazilian legal system through decree 72.312, on May 31st, 1973. In 1999, Brazil internalized into its legal system the  1995 Convention by International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Unidroit, in Portuguese acronym) on Stolen or Illicit Exported Cultural Properties, complementing the legal apparatus from UNESCO 1970 Convention. 


Seminar: Protection and circulation of cultural properties: fighting illegal trafficking

When: 04 and 05 June, 2018, from 9am to 6pm

Where: Institute Itaú Cultural: Avenida Paulista, 149 − São Paulo (SP).


More information and accreditation

  • Conteúdo Comunicação

Phone: +55 (11)5056-9800 or +55 (11)99725-8361

Cristina R. Durán: cristina.duran(at)conteudonet.com

Claudio Sá: claudio.sa(at)conteudonet.com

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