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Symposium to tackle illegal trade in cultural property



KATHMANDU: The loss, damage and theft of cultural property are attracting significant political, media, diplomatic, and legal attention globally.

The illegal trade in statues, manuscripts and other items that are essential elements of a country’s cultural property in South Asia continues as the region lacks effective law and policy to curtail illicit trade, according to the UNESCO Nepal.

The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu is set to organise an international symposium “Protecting Asia’s heritage: Strategies for fighting illicit traffic of cultural property and fostering restitutions,” on December 16-17 in Kathmandu, under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Nepal.

“The symposium will address a variety of issues, including the challenges to establish a tracking system to identify and locate cultural property in a systematic way and the limited technical capacity to safeguard the restituted objects and lack of public awareness on such illicit traffic,” said Axel Plathe, Head of the UNESCO Office.

Specifically, the symposium aims to exchange knowledge on the state of illicit trafficking of cultural property in South Asia; on the status of the implementation of international legal framework and on best practices covering both preventive measures and restitution process.

The symposium also intends to make recommendations on the best use of international legal tools and frameworks and customary laws and provisions; on strategies for the return of cultural property, and on long-term planning for the restituted objects.

The symposium is expected to bring together about 100 experts working in the culture sector, museums, libraries, archives, and the art market, including 20 international speakers from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

They also include experts from the UNESCO headquarters in

Paris, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organisation, UNIDROIT, ICOM, UNODC and other regional organisations.

The event has been planned in line with the Kathmandu Declaration adopted by the 2001 UNESCO symposium “Illicit traffic in cultural property: A threat to the cultural heritage and tourism of Nepal” organised in Kathmandu.

Then Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal and was subsequently endorsed by the then had adopted the declaration.

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