24.09.2019 - Culture Sector

UNESCO's participation of the 36th European Heritage Days

© UNESCO/Fabrice Gentile

For the European Heritage Days on 21 and 22 September, UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris opened its doors to the public for the second time revealing its unique architecture and artworks. In this special event to mark the new school year, the Organization proposed several activities featuring cultural actors who are reinventing access to culture, in a playful and innovative way, thanks to new technologies.

Four “heritage talks” on culture and technology, including technology for heritage, were organized with the participation of UNESCO experts, representatives of civil society and heritage stakeholders. As a leading institution in the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property, the Secretariat of the 1970 Convention presented its expertise on "The fight against illicit trafficking in works of art".

This talk also brought together Mr Axel Berengier, in charge of cultural heritage issues at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic, and Lieutenant-Colonel Gianpietro Romano, expert in the protection of the cultural heritage of the Italian Carabinieri police force. They were able to explain the work of their institutions in support of the fight against illicit trafficking. The Secretariat stressed the importance of prevention and the technical assistance it provides to Member States.

There were numerous exchanges between the speakers and the public on the economic and symbolic value of stolen property or the use of the proceeds of this traffic to finance terrorist activities.  The importance of documentation and inventory of collections was emphasized in order to prevent the illegal sale of cultural objects on international markets.

Furthermore, the role of technology in the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property highlighted the possibility of Artificial Intelligence for the search for illegal online sales, the monitoring of sites by drones, and UNESCO's various useful databases. Finally, specific examples of success stories also mentioned the role of the public, art market dealers, governments, police, customs, museums, and international cooperation, particularly with organizations such as UNESCO.

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