The Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the United Nations, in cooperation with the Permanent Representation of Italy to the United Nations, created the Group of Friends for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage, an important step towards the implementation of the international legal framework.
The protection of cultural heritage is a high priority of the foreign policy of the two countries and the main objective of the Group is to raise awareness of the need to protect the cultural heritage, combat the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, prevent the fight against all forms of trafficking in cultural goods and related illegal activities, the sharing of best practices and their internationalization, and the strengthening of the links between legal sources.
In this context, the first meeting of the Group on the Protection of Cultural Heritage was held on Wednesday, April 18, at the Permanent Representation of Italy to the United Nations. The meeting was co-chaired by the Permanent Representatives of Italy Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi and Ambassador of Cyprus Cornelius Korneliou.
Speaking at the meeting, Ambassador Korneliou thanked the Permanent Representation of Italy for hosting the meeting and expressed deep appreciation to Italy and personally to his Italian counterpart for his full support for the establishment of the Group. He stressed that the protection of cultural heritage is a shared goal shared by all the countries present in the meeting, while praising the work of France and Italy on the subject, notably with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2347 in 2017.
The Permanent Representative of Cyprus reminded attendees that in May 2017, during the Cyprus Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the “Convention on Cultural Heritage Offenses” was signed in Nicosia, which is the only international treaty on criminalization of the illicit trafficking of cultural goods. Moreover, he added that a resolution on Cultural Rights and the Protection of Cultural Heritage was unanimously adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last March at the initiative of Cyprus.
“The idea of creating a Friendship Group for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage started here in New York with the expectation that this platform could revitalize international interest by raising awareness and encouraging the implementation of the existing legal framework, by sharing best practices and enhancing partnerships”, Korneliou said.
The Permanent Representative also stated that, at this stage, the Group’s work would focus on two key priorities: the completion of national catalogs and the comprehensive registration of all types of cultural heritage, and the intensification of the digitization of cultural property – mobile and immovable.
Finally, the Permanent Representative highlighted the non-political nature of the Group and pointed out that what connects its members is the common belief that cultural heritage is the foundation of human civilization and the need to protect it.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Armenia, Cambodia, South Korea, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, India, Colombia, Georgia, Qatar, Iraq , Russia, as well as representatives of UNESCO and Interpol”./IBNA