Argentina consolidates training in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property

The seventh edition of the capacity building sought to strengthen the skills of police and customs officials.

On 6 and 7 October 2021, the VII edition of the Training Course on Cultural Heritage Protection, jointly organised by the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Culture, the General Directorate of International Coordination of the Federal Police of Argentina, and the UNESCO Office in Montevideo was held, bringing together around 100 participants. Delivered in virtual mode for the second consecutive year, the training was aimed at different law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Police, the National Gendarmerie, the Argentine Naval Prefecture, the Airport Security Police, and customs, all actors involved in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.

Within the framework of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, Alcira Sandoval, specialist of the Culture Programme of the UNESCO Office in Montevideo, underlined that:

“Argentina ratified the Convention in 1973 and is an example to follow in terms of good practices in the fight against illicit trafficking. Holding courses such as this one is evidence of its commitment to continuous capacity building, which is essential for the region.”

The first session was opened by Marcelo El Haibe, Director General of International Coordination of the Argentine Federal Police, who thanked UNESCO for its constant support and commitment. It addressed the role of this Organisation in the field of culture, the keys to the cultural assets that most usually suffer from illicit trafficking, as well as the types of crimes against cultural heritage. On the second day, the provisions of the 1970 Convention and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention were presented, as well as the role of police forces, the tools available such as national and international databases of stolen goods, and good practices in investigation, procedure, and alliances to face the challenges posed by online commerce.

The theft, looting and illicit trafficking of cultural property is a crime and deprives peoples of their history and culture, weakening social cohesion in the long term. UNESCO works to provide a clear and strong response to support States in their work against the plundering of their heritage, through the development of benchmark legal instruments, capacity-building, awareness-raising and international cooperation. It is our collective duty to act against illicit trafficking of cultural property and to protect our cultural heritage.