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    ICESCO Calls for Development of Conventions on Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property

    28 July 2020

    ** Egypt’s Minister of Tourism announced a joint international conference, under the patronage of the country’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, with ICESCO, in 2020.

    Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, Director-General (DG) of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), stated Tuesday, July 28 that the worsening crimes of illicit trafficking in cultural property and the growing e-markets and auctions on social media require developing relevant legislations, conventions, and joint efforts to set the code of ethics to deal with these cultural properties.

    ICESCO’s International Virtual Conference on “Combatting the Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property” took place in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Several ministers and prominent experts in the field of antiquities also participated in the event.

    In his address at the opening session, Dr. AlMalik warned that the cultural heritage in the Islamic world is endangered and exposed in public auctions on social media.
    The Organization’s DG also stressed that “amid the current situations threatening our unique civilizational heritage, ICESCO is committed to strongly support the Member States and other countries to counter the crime of illicit trafficking in cultural property. This conference is the first step toward ensuring capacity-building and developing relevant mechanisms to fight against this phenomenon.”

    On his part, Dr. Khalid Al-Anani, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, announced in his address the organization of a face-to-face international conference in cooperation with ICESCO, to be held in Egypt under the patronage Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

    The goal of the planned event, with the date to be later announced, is to further combat illicit trafficking in cultural property.
    Al-Anani also welcomed Egypt’s participation in the small task forces to draft the conference’s declaration.
    The Egyptian Minister expressed his conviction that today’s International Virtual Conference will be a turning point in boosting cooperation between countries to combat the theft and illicit trafficking of cultural property. It will develop the necessary tools and institutional systems and assist in the cooperation for the fight against such trafficking and the restitution of the artifacts to their homelands, he added.

    ICESCO’s DG welcomed the patronage of H.E. President Al-Sissi for the upcoming international conference on combating illicit trafficking in cultural properties while commending the efforts exerted by Egypt to recover its cultural properties.

    During the four sessions of Tuesday’s conference, speakers debated the topic in depth. The first session was dedicated to the current situation of illicit trafficking in cultural property in the Islamic world, during which Dr. Hassan Nazim, Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities of Iraq, tackled the challenges that faced the Iraqi heritage after 2003.

    Jean-Michel Abimbola, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts of the Republic of Benin, affirmed that his country had been a victim of the illicit trafficking of cultural property because of colonialism.

    Mr. Abdel Ilah Afifi, the representative of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports of Kingdom of Morocco, stated that Morocco managed to recover 35 thousand heritage pieces, adding that his country is preparing a law to protect monuments.

    On her part, Ms. Elena Vlachogianni, the representative of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, said that her country concluded several bilateral and multilateral agreements to protect cultural properties.
    Roberto Riccardi, the representative of the Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said that Italy has a database of its cultural property that facilitates the restitution of any stolen piece.

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