A two-day conference has recently been held in Cyprus to promote what is known as the Nicosia Convention, which aims to raise awareness and promote shared efforts to stem the illegal trade in antiquities and prevent or prosecute offences relating to cultural property.
The global illegal trade in antiquities, which is used frequently to finance criminal or terrorist activities, is generally recognised as being very substantial, even though the value of this trade is difficult to estimate.
The convention opened for signatures in May 2017, but so far, just 12 countries have signed it with Cyprus and Mexico the only two countries to ratify it.
Five ratifications are necessary to activate the convention’s provisions, including at least 3 member states of the Council of Europe.
The convention aims to supersede the 1985 Delphi Convention, which no country ratified.
“Considering the topicality of the threat we are dealing with, everybody would like to have a quicker response from the governments,” director of democratic participation of the Council of Europe, Matja Gruden, said at the conference.
He hoped “we are going to see positive momentum” with more countries signing and ratifying the convention and allowing the international treaty to come into force.
The immediate trigger that led to the convention was the plundering of cultural assets by the so-called Islamic State or Daesh group to finance its operations.
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