Left Menu
Development News Edition

UNESCO, EU and art market together ramp up fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects

These due diligence measures are essential for the art market. One must look carefully at who the seller is and their reputation, the physical object and its provenance, and the nature of the transaction. 

UNESCO | Updated: 29-03-2018 09:04 IST | Created: 29-03-2018 09:02 IST
UNESCO, EU and art market together ramp up fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects
These due diligence measures are essential for the art market. One must look carefully at who the seller is and their reputation, the physical object and its provenance, and the nature of the transaction. (Image Credit: UNESCO)

When it comes to the global art market, Europe is reportedly the largest exporter of art and antiquities, and the second largest importer. While most of the estimated USD 14.6 billion European trade is licit or "clean", there is no doubt that it also falls victim to organized crime, money laundering and terrorist financing as a means for generating illicit proceeds.

In an effort to address the situation, UNESCO, EU Member States and art market representatives joined other international organizations, NGOs and experts at UNESCO Headquarters on 20 and 21 March for the conference "Engaging the European Art Market in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property."

"The EU is more committed than ever, especially in this 2018 European Year for Cultural Heritage, to strengthening legal and cooperation frameworks to stop illicit trafficking, and to supporting countries directly affected," said Rupert Schlegemilch, Head of the EU Delegation to the OECD and UNESCO.

The multi-stakeholder approach to combatting illicit trafficking of arts and antiquities is imperative and becoming stronger. The importance of reinforcing due diligence conduct in the European art trade, in particular, is a key element of this fight.

"This is the first time we bring representatives from the public and private sectors from the EU Member States to bolster dialogue and cooperation to fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, where cooperation with the art market, in particular, is key," explained Mechtild Rössler, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture.

Illicit art is being detected as objects make their way in, through, and out of Europe, and these objects are making their way into the European licit market. The black market trade is hard to trace and quantify, and preventive and tracking measures especially need to be strengthened. "We need more dedicated public prosecutors and experts analyzing trafficking, we need standardization of documentation, especially for provenance, and we need harmonization of EU art crime laws," said Lynda Albertson, CEO, Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA).

The art market, including dealers, collectors and auction houses, plays an important role in this fight and is increasingly working together with national, regional and international authorities.

The legal, professional and moral obligation to ensure the market is trading in licit cultural objects cannot be underestimated. According to Catherine Chadelat, President of the Conseil des Ventes Volontaires (CVV) in France, the regulations, systems of verification and legal operations in place for public auction houses can work if followed well.

Staff and commissaries need to be trained in checking provenance, auction houses can send their catalogues to experts for verification. "If something is amiss, we work with the authorities and have the power to suspend a sale," she said.

These due diligence measures are essential for the art market. One must look carefully at who the seller is and their reputation, the physical object and its provenance, and the nature of the transaction.

Checking export and import certificates, databases for stolen objects like those of INTERPOL or the Italian Carabinieri, or the ICOM Red Lists, are also measures for due diligence.

Swindlers are deceptive, but dealers know that their due diligence is imperative to avoid risks and uphold their reputations. "It is in the interest of dealers to work only in the licit trade because their business depends on it," said Erika Bochereau, General Secretary of the International Federation of Dealer Association (CINOA).

Codes of conduct in the art market are being strengthened and applied through self-regulation, yet sensitizing and building the capacities of relevant market stakeholders on the topic of due diligence still, have a ways to go. Martin Wilson, British Art Market Federation (BAMF), stressed "education of the art market", and noted that both the market and the general public need to understand better the situations of, for example, illicit excavations in Syria or Iraq, and the laws that have been put in place to prevent trafficking of antiquities.

He applauded the increased cooperation between institutions, national authorities, and the art market in recent years.

The meeting was a rare opportunity to review with the art market the legal systems in place, for example, the UNESCO 1970 Convention combatting illicit trafficking of cultural property, the UNIDROIT 1995 Convention, and the regulations specific to European Union, as well as the tools available to facilitate due diligence obligations.

Moreover, it became apparent that a broader approach to due diligence is welcomed – one that also includes other international organizations like the OECD.

The European Commission and UNESCO, as part of their joint project "Engaging the European Art Market in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property", which included this meeting, are creating a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in cooperation with 360 Learning as an additional practical tool to build capacities of stakeholders in the fight against illicit trafficking, and due diligence in particular.

They are also outlining other cultural property protection initiatives aimed at members of the judiciary, police units and customs officers.

(This is a reproduced UNESCO news as it is. Devdiscourse bears no responsibility towards grammatical or factual errors that may have been presented in the report.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

5G will be the key driving force for COVID-19 recovery: Here's how?

... ...

Canada’s COVID-19 pitfalls highlight need for integrated health information system

In the globalized world of today where outbreaks can spread far and wide within a matter of days, a global-level integrated health information system is ideal but Canadas provincial barriers show that the country lags much behind in deployi...

Pandemic must be impetus, not obstacle, for clean water access

To make matters worse, there are suspicions that the inadequacy of wastewater treatment methods in California, the rest of the USA, and indeed around the world may help to propagate the disease even more widely. ...

3D printing and the future of manufacturing post COVID-19

The on-demand, customizable, and localized manufacturing of product components facilitated by 3D printing has the potential to redefine manufacturing but there are certain technical, mechanical, and legal limitations that, unless ...

Videos

Latest News

UK PM Johnson says Scottish train incident is "very serious"

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the derailment of a train near Stonehaven in Scotland on Wednesday morning as a very serious incident.I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are wi...

Its now DMK vs BJP in Tamil Nadu: V P Duraisamy

The BJPs growth in Tamil Nadu has altered the political landscape in the state and the 2021 Assembly elections will be a fight between it and DMK, under a BJP-led alliance, the saffron partys state vice president V P Duraisamy claimed on We...

Jessica Simpson shares adorable photo of daughter Birdie Mae

American singer Jessica Simpson recently shared an adorable picture with her one-year-old daughter, Birdie Mae on Instagram, according to Fox News. In the picture, Simpson is seen rocking a white top with denim overalls, and Birdie Mae is s...

Man whose number is similar to Rhea's gets abusive calls

A resident of Kolhapur in Maharashtra has switched off his mobile phone for the past few days as he was receiving too many abusive calls from people who thought it was Bollywood actor Rhea Chakraborty number. Chakraborty is in news after ac...

Give Feedback