Customs administrations of the West and Central Africa region brainstorm on the action plan to prevent illicit trafficking of cultural objects

14 mayo 2018

Hosted by the Customs administration of Burkina Faso, the WCO organized the first regional workshop for West and Central Africa (WCA) on ‘The security and development: the role of Customs in cultural heritage protection’’. The workshop united the representatives of 15 WCA countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Republic of the Congo and Togo. The workshop was also supported by the experts from INTERPOL and regional office of UNESCO in Dakar, Senegal, as well as experts from the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, along with the Burkinabe national police, the army and the Inter-ministerial committee of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The workshop was opened by the Director General of the Burkinabe Customs, Mr Adama Sawadogo who welcomed the WCO initiative within the framework of the 2016 WCO Council Resolution on the Role of Customs in the prevention of illicit trafficking of cultural objects. Ms Mariya Polner of the WCO also underlined that this topic is new for Customs officers in the WCA and because of instability and conflict, it is necessary to raise awareness as well as deploy specific tools in this domain. Ms Khadiatou Camara of the UNESCO regional office in Dakar, Senegal, pointed out the growing threat of the illicit trade on the internet which reveals numerous challenges for law enforcement. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Mr Abdoul Karim Sango, emphasized the close ties between the security and development, especially in the Sahel region marked by porous borders and conflict. He pointed out that safeguarding cultural heritage is a noble mission that directly contributes to peace and stability.

Special attention during the workshop was dedicated to the analysis of the security situation in the region and identify gaps in relation to awareness and skills of the Customs officers in relation to countering illicit trafficking of cultural objects. This brainstorming along with communications delivered by the participants on the different national situations and solutions and techniques developed by the international organizations led to the development of the recommendations addressing three major areas: awareness raising, inter-institutional coordination and cooperation as well as practical training. Since the WCO has already piloted the training modules in this area of enforcement in the MENA region in September 2017, these modules will be further tailored to take into account the results of the brainstorming and deployed in the WCA region in the nearest future.