Panel Discussion and Technical Meeting on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Artefacts in Pakistan

Lahore, Pakistan - 20-22 October 2017 - The Government of France organized an international festival "Heritage Now" in partnership with UNODC, Higher Education Commission (HEC), National History and Literary Heritage Division, UNESCO, British Council, and Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) in Lahore. The goal of the festival was to build awareness of the global importance of Pakistan's cultural and archaeological heritage, as well as to mobilize collaborative efforts among government and international partners to help protect and conserve this heritage by preventing and countering destruction and trafficking in cultural property.

The UNODC mandates in the areas of trafficking in cultural property and related offences cover comprehensive crime prevention and criminal justice responses of Member States providing the widest possible international cooperation to address such crimes. The issue of protection of cultural heritage has taken on renewed urgency due to the extensive destruction and looting of cultural property amidst armed conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and its relationship with other forms of illicit trafficking, including the financing of terrorism.

Mr. Cesar Guedes, UNODC Country Representative, gave his opening remarks at a panel discussion "Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Artefacts in Pakistan" on 22 October 2017 at Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore. The panel discussion was a special side event organized for creating awareness among the relevant stakeholders, professionals, academia and international organisations to discuss the pressing issue of trafficking of cultural heritage. The panellists included Mr. Junaid Akhlaq, Joint Secretary, National History & Literary Heritage Division, Government of Pakistan, Mr. Cesar Guedes, UNODC Country Representative, Mr. Celso Corracini, Crime Prevention Officer, UNODC Headquarters, Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director, UNESCO and Mr. Sajid Akram, Deputy Director, Federal Investigation Agency, Punjab. 

Mr. Guedes said in his remarks that a cursory reading of recent political events in the region and across the world makes it apparent that illicit trafficking in cultural artefacts is not a national issue, not even a regional one, but very much a global matter of concern in today's global village. 

UNODC in collaboration with French Embassy and Government of Pakistan also held a separate technical meeting on 20 October 2017 with a special focus on illicit trafficking in cultural artefacts and its interconnections with other forms of transnational organized crime.

The meeting was attended by experts of national and international law enforcement experts, regulatory authorities which included French Embassy, the European Union, UNESCO, Federal Bureau of Revenue, Federal Investigation Agency, federal and provincial archaeological and museum departments, including State Bank of Pakistan and National School of Public Policy.  

The technical meeting officials highlighted the key issues and challenges pertaining to the trafficking of cultural artefacts and provided an overview of the interconnections at regional and global levels, and shared best practices in international multi-agency partnershipsto effectively combat the issues from law enforcement perspective and the international cooperation modalities.

In conclusion, few recommendations were mutually agreed by the Government of Pakistan and relevant stake holders, which will help strengthen the national legal framework, develop capacity of law enforcement and judicial authorities to prevent and deter the illicit trade of cultural artefacts. 


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