China celebrates Second International Day against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property

On the occasion of the second International Day against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property, UNESCO welcomes digital initiatives undertaken throughout the world providing important opportunities to raise global awareness and a renewed commitment in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.

On 14 November 2021, the National Cultural Heritage Administration of China (NCHA), in cooperation with the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Security of China, celebrated the International Day in China through an online forum gathering government officials, law experts, art market stakeholders and journalists. The forum was co-organized with the Shanghai University. In his welcoming speech Lazare Eloundou, Director of Culture and Emergencies at UNESCO, said “We strongly applaud the celebration of this important International Day in China, which is not only in line with UNESCO’s purpose and global agenda, but also serves as an important occasion to celebrate China’s great efforts in combatting illicit trafficking, and the fruitful cooperation between China and UNESCO on the matter. We commend China for the successful achievements in recent years.”

Guan Qiang, Deputy Administrator of NCHA, detailed China’s implementation of the UNESCO 1970 Convention, in particular by highlighting the enhancement of the national legal framework, judicial measures, law enforcement, import and export controls, art market regulations, and digital inventories and databases.

“Thanks to the UNESCO 1970 Convention, the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property has become an international consensus in the past 50 years and the return of displaced cultural property to their countries of origin has gained significant momentum. China is deeply committed to enrich our measures and practices to enhance implementation of the 1970 Convention which we strongly support,” stated Guan Qiang, Deputy Administrator, National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA), China.

Over 1700 cultural objects have been returned to China since 2012, and 23 bilateral agreements have been established to facilitate the return and restitution and fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property. A themed webpage dedicated to the International Day 2021 was launched to showcase the UNESCO public campaign “The real price of art” and promote 12 exhibitions on return and restitution. The webpage also provides links to the Stolen (lost) cultural relics information publication platform and the Database on Stolen Foreign Cultural Objects with over 6900 objects registered.

As the crime of illicit trafficking of cultural property continues to increase, also due to the impact of the pandemic, armed conflicts, disasters and climate change, UNESCO calls on Member States to take advantage of the International Day to promote ratification, awareness raising and international cooperation for the 1970 Convention.