Development of an Action Plan to safeguard Syrian Cultural Heritage

© INTERPOL, Stolen mosaic from Hama


Budget: (US$): 70,000
Source: Swiss Federal Office for Culture (40,000 US$); UNESCO Culture Sector (30,000 US$)
Dates: February 2013/Completed
Beneficiaries: antiquities, customs and police departments from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey; international experts in the field of archaeology and heritage management; international law enforcement agencies.


In February 2013, the UNESCO Office in Amman and the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Protection Treaties Section organized a four-day regional training in Amman to assess the situation of illicit trafficking of Syrian cultural heritage and to promote regional and global cooperation.

The initiative brought together the police, customs and heritage departments of Syria and its neighboring countries, international organizations involved in cultural heritage management and protection, international experts in Syrian archaeology and law enforcement agencies from Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States.

As a result of the training, a two scenario Plan of Action was developed and endorsed by the participants.

The first scenario addresses the present situation in Syria through a short term strategy and the second focuses on recovery through a longer term framework.

The Action Plan focuses on implementing advocacy, capacity building and awareness-raising activities involving all major stakeholders –including the Syrian authorities and Syria’s neighboring countries – to safeguard heritage at risk and improve regional and international cooperation.

The plan aims to foster the protection of museums and archaeological sites from looting, prevent illicit trafficking, improve restitutions to Syria and ensure follow-up of activities.

Priorities under the UNESCO Action Plan will be implemented through the project funded by the European Union (€2.46 million).

Notably, as part of this project, UNESCO will set up an International Observatory of Syrian Cultural Heritage that will enable to monitor the situation on the ground and to mobilize the scientific and professional networks to respond to threats and plan post-recovery measures.

The project activities on the ground will start in the next months.

Back to top