2nd International Day for the Fight against the Illicit Traffic in Cultural Property

On November 14, 2021, UNESCO celebrates the second International Day against the Illicit Traffic in Cultural Property, adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2019. This International Day has symbolic meaning, as the year 2021 marks the celebration highlights of the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Convention.

By commemorating this new International Day, UNESCO aims to raise awareness on the illicit trafficking of cultural property, which is a crime with global consequences: it deprives humanity and peoples of the memory that lays the foundation of their future, and hinders the potential of culture as a driver for economic and social development.

The situation has worsened in recent years, due to the increase of conflicts, the growing importance of the internet and new marketing channels, and the pandemic, which has weakened the capacity to monitor heritage sites. According to the data provided by INTERPOL, in 2020, 854,742 seizures of cultural objects were recorded worldwide (source: INTERPOL survey). Joint actions to protect our common heritage, particularly in countries weakened by armed conflict, natural disasters and economic crises, is therefore crucial. This need for a strengthened joint effort between all actors involved in the fight against illicit trafficking was underlined by the participants of the International Conference of 14 September, organized in partnership with the European Union.

To celebrate this 2nd International Day for the Fight against Illicit Traffic in Cultural Property, UNESCO’s key technical partners have demonstrated strong ties of cooperation and mutual commitments in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property. This International Day is an opportunity to recall that we must intensify our efforts to enforce ethical standards while supporting States in their efforts to safeguard heritage and combat illicit trade.


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