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‘UNESCO Sub-regional Symposium for the Fight against Illicit Traffic of Cultural Heritage in South-East Asia’ to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, 19-21 November 2014

In recent years with the social-economic growth of the region, the rapid expansion of the art market, in particular through the internet has created a high demand for cultural objects thereby increasing the danger of illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts originating from countries that have insufficient preventive measures in place.

The symposium is being held in the context of the implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, as well as of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. This conference is part of a series of symposia benefitting the Asia-Pacific region. In December 2013, a similar symposium was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, for South Asian countries and in July 2015 another major event will take place in Port Vila, Vanuatu, focused on the protection of movable cultural heritage in the Pacific sub-region.

Only three out of the eleven countries, Cambodia, Myanmar and Viet Nam invited have ratified the 1970 Convention; as far as the 1995 Convention is concerned, the only State Party present to the meeting is Cambodia, making the region still extremely vulnerable to illicit trade in cultural objects.

The three-day Bangkok symposium will provide a platform for discussions and building strategies among heritage managers, law enforcement professionals and art market experts from the concerned countries of South-East Asia. International experts from INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, UNIDROIT, UNODC, ICOM, and regional organizations are also attending. It will highlight the issues faced by South-East Asian countries in the prevention of the illicit trafficking in cultural property, foster their knowledgebase on recent achievements in this domain and outline restitution strategies and international cooperation. It is worth noting that it is the first time that UNESCO organizes such a meeting on this topic for South-East Asia in particular– hence its relevance to trigger enhanced actions in this field.

This event has been possible thanks to the generous support of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands.


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See the promo video for South-East Asia:

More on the 1970 Convention:

The 1995 Convention complements the 1970 Convention by encouraging states to commit to a uniform method of restitution of stolen or illegally. Thus far Cambodia remains the sole South East signatory to the convention.

More on the UNIDROIT Convention: