UNODC assists Iran in combating trafficking in cultural property
In 2011, UNODC Country Office launched a pilot initiative on "Organized Crime and Money Laundering in Cultural Property" to assist the Islamic Republic of Iran in protecting its cultural heritage and combating trafficking in cultural property. Due to its geographical location and historical background, Iran is a victim of illegal looting and trafficking of its cultural artifacts. Notwithstanding the competent national authorities try to enforce the law and prevent illegal looting, additional work has to be done to tackle organized criminal rings dealing with ancient objects.
UNODC is currently assisting the Iranian government in enhancing its capacity to curb this phenomenon and to improve international judicial and law enforcement cooperation in line with UN and international standard.
The UNODC office in Iran is the first office in the world offering a tailor-made programme to a Member State in dealing with this subject. In the framework of its programme of Technical Cooperation on Drugs and Crime in the Islamic Republic of Iran (2011-2014), UNODC has been providing support to the Iranian authorities to ratify the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Relevant counterparts have also been benefiting from a large number of capacity building activities, such as technical assistance meetings, seminars and workshops.
In this regard, UNODC Iran supported the participation of an Iranian delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Iranian Police to the 1st Expert Group Meeting on Trafficking in Cultural Property held on 21-23 November 2011 at UNODC Headquarters in Vienna. The workshop aimed at exposing the Iranian experts to international standard and best practices with regard to the protection of cultural property. Experts from Germany, France, Italy, Serbia, Australia, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, China, Ecuador, Mexico, United Kingdom, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Institute for Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) attended the meeting. The experts exchanged their experiences and provided technical recommendations on the part related to trafficking in Cultural Property of the UNODC Guidelines on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses.
The Expert Group Meeting will be followed by another event scheduled for the 2nd quarter of 2012, which will focus on the strategic and global impacts of the Guidelines and its final approval. Upon its approval, the Guidelines will be able to offer to member States a wide array of legislative and practical tools to deal with the protection and prevention of the illegal trafficking of cultural property.