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WCO strongly supports the UN Security Council Resolution 2347/2017 on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflicts

27 mars 2017

On Friday, 24 March 2017, the United Nations Security Council (UN SC) unanimously adopted UN SC Resolution 2347/2017 on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflicts. This Resolution has been described as ‘historic’ by UN Security Council Member States.  Having witnessed the unprecedented level of looting and destruction of the cultural property,  in particular in light of the shocking events in Syria, Iraq, Mali and other countries, the global community expressed its commitment to work together to prevent these heinous acts through this Security Council Resolution.

The WCO’s instruments and tools, such the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System and the WCO ARCHEO platform, as well as the importance of Customs contribution to addressing this issue have been highlighted in the text of the Resolution. The role of the WCO along with other international organizations, such as UNESCO, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and INTERPOL is underlined in the context of developing cooperation and activities to support the Member States in the implementation of this Resolution. The Resolution expresses strong concern regarding links between the activities of terrorists and organised criminal groups.  In some cases, these criminal activities go beyond trafficking of cultural objects to include illegal revenues and financial flows as well as money laundering, bribery and corruption.

"The unanimous adoption of this UN Security Council Resolution is a testament to  the gravity of the problem related to pillaging, destruction, and  illicit trafficking of cultural objects, particularly in conflict zones. The Resolution acknowledges the important role the WCO and its Member Administrations play in countering this threat.  The WCO remains fully committed to assist its Members in the implementation of the Resolution as well as continue cooperating with UNESCO, INTERPOL, UNODC and other partners for coordinated and effective action", said the WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.

During the last two years the WCO has undertaken a number of activities designed to raise awareness on the role of Customs in the prevention of illicit trafficking of cultural objects, resulting in the adoption of the Resolution by the WCO Council in 2016 that addresses this matter. The WCO maintains the ARCHEO platform, a specialised communication tool that brings together representatives of different law enforcement agencies, relevant Ministries and experts.  Its primary purpose is to  maximize efficient and effective enforcement in this area. A specialised training curriculum for Customs officers is being developed and will be coupled with the deployment of operational activities in this field in order to address capacity building needs in this critical domain.