UNESCO and Interpol join forces to strengthen capacities to fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property of Brazil and the Southern Cone

Asunción, Paraguay, 23-25 July 2013

©OCN Asunción/UNESCO


The Second meeting of specialists in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property in the Southern Cone, organized by Interpol and UNESCO, with the support of the National Secretariat of Culture and the Ministry of Interior of Paraguay was held from 23 to 25 July 2013 in the facilities of the Historical Archives of Asuncion, Paraguay.

The event was part of the joint efforts of UNESCO and Interpol to help in fighting the scourge of the trafficking in cultural property and to ensure the follow-up of the meeting organized in Buenos Aires in 2012 in order to train representatives of the police, customs, law authorities and officials of the Ministry of Culture. The training was provided by high-level experts from Interpol, UNESCO (Maria Luz Endere), the Heritage Police of Spain (Javier Morales) and Argentina (Marcelo El Haibe and Fernando Gomez).

The training modules covered the following issues:

  • international conventions, in particular the UNESCO 1970 Convention and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention;
  • methods of police investigation and prevention;
  • tools and methodology developed by UNESCO, Interpol and heritage police forces:
  • security in museums and archaeological sites;
  • the code of conduct and ethics, and
  • the role of customs and professionals from the art market.

More than 50 participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay received training and were able to exchange experiences and knowledge on good practices against the illicit trafficking of cultural property.
A working session was devoted to the creation of a network between the participants so as to create a community of sub-regional knowledge to strengthen the implementation of future cooperation activities.
The participants also reflected on the implementation of awareness-raising activities among the youth and the general public. The results of these discussions will serve as guidelines for the awareness-raising action led jointly by UNESO and Interpol.

Organized with the financial support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation Development (AECID), the meeting was opened on 23 July 2013 in the morning, with the participation of the Head of the Regional Bureau of Interpol in Buenos Aires, Rafael Peña, the Head of the National Police of Paraguay and the Regional Bureau of Interpol Paraguay Silvio Antonio Escobar, the Director-General of the Cultural Heritage of Paraguay, Gilda Urbieta, and the representative of the UNESCO regional Office in Montevideo, Frédéric Vacheron. The Spanish Ambassador in Uruguay, Don Diego Bermejo Romero de Terreros, and a number of personalities from the diplomatic service, public institutions and the civil society attended the event.

The closing of the workshop was held at the House of the Independence in Asunción and offered an opportunity for the Paraguayan authorities to demonstrate a formal acknowledgement to UNESCO, Interpol and in particular the Argentine Heritage Police for the recent and almost complete recovery of more than 100 pieces of a collection of invaluable religious artifacts from the missions of Paraguay.

The success of this event testifies the effectiveness of the implementation of strategies of interdisciplinary, sub-regional and inter-institutional cooperation in the framework of the implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.

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