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Fighting the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property

“Preventing the illicit trafficking of cultural objects is a fundamental necessity for the protection of cultural heritage. Fighting this crime requires specific knowledge and experience of international legal tools, including their practical implementation. Most importantly, in order to cooperate efficiently on this matter, all actors involved in mitigating the illicit trafficking of cultural property must be well-prepared. Any loss of time only serves to favour the smugglers while undermining cultural heritage, science and hope. This manual aims to provide the basic reference documents, together with practical tools developed by the relevant international or regional governmental or non-governmental organizations (NGOs), organs and mechanisms…


The protection of cultural property is an undertaking that is generally associated with cultural heritage professionals such as archaeologists, art historians, anthropologists and museum professionals. However, when this protection becomes a legal obligation and contrary actions are criminalized, the responsibility to ensure the application of the law rests with the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. In this regard, this manual also aims to provide fundamental information on the principal actors in this fight: the police, gendarmerie, customs, prosecutors and judges. The examples and exercises included in this study offer practical steps to complement the theoretical information provided in the legal texts, and to initiate interaction during training.” (p.14)