NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 20 – The fighting against illegal trafficking of cultural property was on the agenda today of a meeting convened by Italy and Cyprus with the Group of Friends for the protection of cultural heritage. Attending the meeting was Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organisation, the the only intergovernmental organisation exclusively focused on Customs matters which is vital in training and coordinating customs control, intelligence activities and the action of police forces for the protection of cultural heritage in cooperation with UNESCO, UNODC and INTERPOL.
During the meeting special thanks was given to the Italian Carabinieri TPC, a special unit specialized in the protection of cultural property for their “steadfast commitment with specific focus and unique expertise to defend the world cultural heritage”.
Following the efforts to define a systematic policy by the UN Security Council to contrast the destruction of cultural heritage worldwide, Italy launched last yeary, along with Cyprus, the Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. The initiative marked an important step forward in the path undertaken by Italy since 2015 for the safeguard of the world cultural heritage from destruction and trafficking by terrorist groups and organized crime. The adoption in 2017, on the initiative of Italy and France, of Resolution 2347 by the Security Council was a milestone. The Group was launched at the Permanent Mission of Italy on the occasion of the International Day for Monuments and Sites, established by UNESCO in 1983. It was attended by 17 Countries and by UNESCO, UNODC and INTERPOL as observers.
Back in 2015, in response to the increasing number of attacks against ancient monuments and sites by extremist groups, Italy and Jordan started the project “Protecting Cultural Heritage – An imperative for Humanity: Acting together against the destruction and trafficking of cultural property by terrorist groups and organized crime”. Its outcomes were presented last September to the opening session of the 72nd session of the General Assembly. In March 2017, the Security Council adopted, on the initiative of Italy and France, the historic resolution 2347, with which for the first time the Council recognizes the need to protect cultural heritage in conflict situations and to combat the trafficking in cultural property as a source of financing for terrorism.