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Published on : Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Cultural heritage in Central Asia is vulnerable to pillage and illicit trafficking as well as the repercussions of conflicts near and far. To develop better mechanisms and cooperation to address related challenges, UNESCO’s conference “Strengthening the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Central Asia” convened experts in Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan, from 27 to 28 June 2017.
“The threats to cultural heritage are shared the world over. In our region it is essential for police, customs and museum officials to cooperate to protect our built and moveable heritage, especially in the framework of UNESCO’s Culture Conventions” said Mr Arman Baissuanov, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan.
Ms Krista Pikkat, Director of the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office, underscord the importance of ratifying and implementing, both from the legal and the practical perspectives, the UNESCO Conventions on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970). “Though the Central Asian countries are not involved directly in recent armed conflicts in the world, they can serve as the transit area for illicit export of cultural assets, so it is critical that national authorities be alerted and work together regarding stolen objects that criminals attempt to smuggle across borders” said Ms Pikkat.
Representatives of Ministries of Culture, Internal Affairs, Justice and Defense, specialists from the National Commissions for UNESCO, museum staff and customs officers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan worked to enhance their national capacities as well as strengthen cooperation among the countries of the region.
They proposed recommendations at both the national and Central Asian levels. These recommendations focused on raising the awareness and capacity of representatives of government bodies, specifically those directly related to the implementation of these Conventions, as well as museum staff.
Participants particularly noted the need to raise awareness among a wider range of people and especially youth, through the development and dissemination of various materials and publications, including video messages.