Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Goods Essay

Title:Illicit trafficking in cultural goods with particular accent on Mauritius.


The international market topographic point for cultural goods is a billion rupees market. Every twenty-four hours in the universe stealer or plunderers are smuggling out cultural goods from their states of beginnings and sold them to foreign states.

My purpose in this undertaking is to better our apprehension of trafficking in cultural objects in order to do people cognizant that illegal trading of cultural goods is an discourtesy as cultural objects map as a depository of memory and which enable each civilization around the universe to talk about themselves and about their beginnings. Furthermore cultural goods are the lone groundss left for us to advance and to safeguard one’s civilization and beginnings. Cultural goods are the cardinal artifacts and are portion of cosmopolitan narrative of humanity so one time those cultural objects are traversing boundaries of states to be sold illicitly to foreign states, at the same clip our cultural individuality is melting. And one time those cultural goods are stolen, looted or destroyed, they will be lost everlastingly, therefore we must halt illicit trafficking in cultural objects.



What is cultural good?

We frequently see the footings cultural “property” , “heritage” , “goods” and “objects” interchanged. Each province has its ain definition of cultural “goods” , “heritage” or “property” . And that’s why the two large international conventions turn toing illicit trafficking in cultural objects, the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Forbiding and Preventing the Illicit Export, Import and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects was created for the intent of assisting each province to acquire a more appropriate legal definition of the term cultural goods so as for them to be able to forestall trafficking in cultural objects and besides to forestall the birthplace of an cultural good.

Under article 1 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Forbiding and Preventing the Illicit Export, Import and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and under article 2 of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, both convention define the term ‘cultural property’ , “as belongings which, on spiritual or secular evidences, is specifically designated by each State as being of importance for archeology, prehistoric culture, history, literature, art or science” [ 1 ] . And both conventions have set up a classs of cultural objects so as for each provinces to acquire a clear apprehension of what cultural goods truly consist of and every bit good this will assist provinces to sort and pull a list of heritage which their states possessed with the mention to the listed classs of cultural objects which both Convention have catered for. [ 2 ]

Types of cultural heritage:

1 ) Tangible heritage

2 ) Intangible heritage

touchable heritage is one that can be stored and physically touched. This includes points produced by the cultural group such as traditional vesture, utensils ( such as beading, H2O vass ) , or vehicles ( such as the ox waggon ) . Tangible heritages include great memorials such as temples, pyramids, and public memorials An intangible heritage is what exists intellectually in the civilization. It is non a physical or touchable point. Intangible heritage includes vocals, myths, beliefs, superstitious notions, unwritten poesy, every bit good as assorted signifiers of traditional cognition such as ethno botanical cognition. For illustration for the Southern Kalahari San, each tree and many other physical sites are portion of their intangible heritage as their history is associated with these sites through narratives, names and vocals. [ 3 ]


The illicit trafficking of cultural goods is a really complex job. Illicit trafficking can be classified under assorted signifiers and it is a moneymaking concern. Factors like geographics, political environment and socio –economic, are sometimes responsible for the rise of illegal trafficking of those cultural goods. [ 4 ] Illicit trafficking in cultural objects is when an person or a group of people is bring forthing a profitable belowground market at the disbursals of stolen artifacts or objects, of illegal digging of archeological and palaeontological sites and of illegal import and export of cultural belongings.

Trafficing in cultural objects allows felons to prehend an chance to cover with high sum of points that are really frequently lack protection. Therefore, since these ware are ill protected, the stealers or plunderers can make illegal import and export from states to states. In the paper, Perspective on the administration and control of the illicit traffic in antiquities in South East Asia written by Christine Alder, associate research worker in criminology University of Melbourne, Duncan Chappell, Professorial Fellow, Center for Transnational Crime Prevention, University of Wollongong, Australia and by Kenneth Polk, Professor of Criminology, University of Melbourne, Australia during the International Conference on “Organised offense in art and antiquities” Courmayeur Mont Blanc, Italy12-14 December 2008, the writers noted that since illicit tracfficking is a moneymaking concern, therefore that type of market can go really unsafe as it dealt with a immense sum of laundered money. And when money is made while selling cultural goods, those doing that money are frequently connected to constabularies or military governments, and take an unpromising and glooming position of intervention in their moneymaking concern. [ 5 ] The fact that illicit trafficking frequently trades with political development and economic crisis ; this farther worsens the battle of illegal trafficking of cultural goods.

Furthermore when a state possesses a rich civilization, it is more vulnerable to cultural loot. For illustration states like Cambodia, Italy, Africa, Oceania, Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey are really prone to looting of cultural stuffs. States like Cambodia with a rich civilization but with a hapless economic system are more likely to be victims of illicit trafficking of cultural goods. As Etienne Clement, UNESCO, Director says“ Cambodia’s civilization is really rich, but the state itself is really hapless. It’s an ideal state of affairs for illegal trafficking” ( BBC online, 2004 ) [ 6 ] . In Cambodia since there economic state of affairs are hapless, the plunderers are normally local people trusting to gain a few dollars. In Cambodia has faced slaughter of its cultural goods and the job is still traveling on even if the UNESCO has intervene in Cambodia. Hundreds of statues are without caputs and walls are frequently marked with Graffiti. “ Hundreds and 100s of sites are being dug up every twenty-four hours, ” said Dougald O’Reilly, the manager of Heritage Watch, an independent group taking to safeguard Cambodia ‘s cultural heritage. In Cambodia heritage sites are frequently hard to acquire entree and that’s why it is hard for the governments to patrol the sites. And as Dougald O’Reilly said to the BBC online, sometime UNESCO tend to concentrate on peculiarly size merely so paying less attending to other of import sites which dated from Bronze and Iron Ages ( BBC online ) [ 7 ] . And something which is more sad and alarming is when we witness how people small by small are selling their cultural individuality and destructing their beginnings merely for the interest of a few coins. This demonstrate that those stealer or plunderer who are selling those cultural hoarded wealth deficiency impressions on the history of their states and on other custodies they are forced to indulged themselves to this illegal act because they are besides populating in a hapless conditions. Mr O’Reilly put further to the BBC online that in Cambodia, “ In some parts of the state, you can purchase 10 kgs of ancient Fe from these graveyards for merely 25 cents, it ‘s really openly sold in local markets. ” [ 8 ]

Furthermore cultural objects can easy be sold as store proprietor or traders to advance their goods they even present groundss of loot as a agency of vouching the genuineness of their ware. [ 9 ] Another job why cultural goods are being able cross boundaries and reach foreign states is because there is a deficiency of certification sing the birthplace of cultural goods. And besides, functionaries working in the field of exporting and importing have no or minimal cognition of archeology or lack impression of cultural surveies therefore it is hard for them to capture felons and place cultural goods. All these factors, contribute farther for “heritage plundering” . And today, the illicit traffic in cultural belongings continues internationally and is estimated to be deserving $ 4.5 million dollars a twelvemonth. [ 10 ]

Furthermore harmonizing to Dr. George Abungu, an archeologist and the founding Director at Okello Abungu Heritage Consultant, he said that colonialism and the spread of Christianity are besides responsible for the immense loot of African heritage. African heritage was destroyed with the new faith such as for illustration, “the evangelisation of the African continent and the Black man’s heart” , and other were collected and transported in the name of His or Her majesty’s authorities. [ 11 ] Invasion by the British, German and the Gallic are besides responsible for heritage devastation. For illustration the British expedition in Benin City, Nigeria and those of the Asante Kingdom at Kumasi in Ghana. And such expedition were undertaken in Asia, South America, and in Africa and every bit good as in North America. And cultural goods were looted and those responsible for this illegal act were considered as lawful roll uping instead than loot. [ 12 ]

The fact that cultural goods has the ability to pass on, either straight or by association, an facet of world which transcends clip or infinite gives it particular significance and is hence something to be sought after and protected.

Legal instruments to battle illicit trafficking in cultural goods

Every twenty-four hours around the universe, monolithic loot of cultural heritage is taking topographic point. Cultural heritage since it is unreplaceable by nature ; therefore it should be protected at any cost. The illegal trafficking of cultural goods affects humanity greatly. This type of trafficking affects museums, private and public aggregations, legitimate proprietor or owners, worship edifices, cultural establishment and every bit good as archeological sites if we do non take actions instantly. As we all know if cultural goods are destroyed wholly, nil will be left for our future coevalss. And today since many people want a rich and better hereafter for their kids and household and for their states every bit good so as non to kill the rich civilization of one’s household or state, many provinces have decided to work together to make terrible Torahs so as to penalize those responsible for the devastation of our lone cultural objects left by our people and by nature.

The magnitude of this type of trafficking is going really dismaying and developed states are non excluded from illicit trafficking like developing states. For illustration states like France, Poland, Russia, Germany and Italy are known to be the most targeted states for heritage sellers. For illustration in 40 old ages, the Italian Carabinieri ( The National Military Police of Italy ) has recovered 800 1000s stolen or illicitly excavated artifacts [ 13 ] . Furthermore, the devastation of our universe cultural heritage should non be held responsible chiefly by larceny or plunderers, as factors like clime alteration, globalization, wartime, pollution and uncontrolled tourers are besides factors lending to the devastation of cultural objects. Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are confronting monolithic heritage pillage. For illustration in Afghanistan, harmonizing to the Afghan Ministry of Culture, 35 artifacts and about 7000 books, housed in the section edifice were destroyed in the fourth September onslaught. Over a 100 cultural artifacts were rescued every bit good as 5000 books. [ 14 ] And the Director and the Representative of the UNESCO in Afghanistan, Mr Paolo Fontani has put frontward in a statement at the UNESCO office in Kabul and has expressed his deepest concern on the protection of the cultural artifacts that, “ Our first ideas travel to the victims of this ruthless act, and to their families” , adding that “the irreversible loss of these alone artifacts should be every bit condemned, since such artifacts underpin the cultural individuality of the local communities and supply the foundation over which the cloth of society should be rebuilt” . [ 15 ]

For the intent to protect the civilization of the humanity and in order to continue and conserve our cultural goods, a set of legal instrument has been created. The three chief legal instrument to provide for our cultural heritage are the Convention on the Means of Forbiding and Preventing the Illicit Export, Import and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970, the UNIDROIT 1995 Convention and the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Hague convention was adopted in 14 of May 1954 during the Second World War so as to battle monolithic devastation of cultural heritage. And the Hague convention was the first international convention aimed to protect cultural goods during armed-conflicts. The Hague convention trades with both movable and immoveable cultural heritage including architecture, art or history, archeological sites, work of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical and of archeological involvement and every bit good as scientific aggregations of all sorts irrespective of their beginnings and ownership. The article 4 ( 3 ) of the Hague convention as follows “The high catching parties further undertake to forbid, prevent, and if necessary, set a halt to any signifier of larceny, loot or embezzlement of, any Acts of the Apostless of hooliganism directed against, cultural belongings. They shall forbear from requisitioning movable cultural belongings situated in the district of another high catching party” clearly said that each state should esteem their cultural belongings and the cultural belongings of other foreign provinces.

Concerned about the new phenomenon of trafficking in cultural belongings in times of peace, the international community, through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO ) adopted in 1970 the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and

Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which presently has 116 States Parties, including Mauritius. The 1970 UNESCO convention has set up 3 steps as follows: attempts in pulling up stock lists, in enfranchisement and in instruction in order to contend illicit trafficking in cultural goods. The convention recommends each party who has ratified the UNESCO 1970 convention to forbid the exportation of cultural belongings from its district unless these cultural belongingss are accompanied by an export certification. And the 1970 Convention besides states that each state should specify their national hoarded wealth in a list and so these will be protected when stolen. The convention besides provides mechanism for provinces to retrieve stolen belongings, but the nominative cultural belongings must be of national importance. The convention besides consider that the protection of cultural heritage can be effectual merely if organized both nationally and internationally among States working in close co-operation and that that, as cultural establishments, museums, libraries and archives should guarantee that their aggregations are built up in conformity with universally recognized moral rules.

Furthermore, since we lack a list of cultural goods and services at the international degree, the UNESCO has established a list to specify cultural goods and services viz. the UNESCO Framework for cultural statistics ( FCS ) . This list classified each cultural goods and services in their several classs. But this FSC was created in the 1980’s and has non been revised since so, however the FSC still serves us to acquire the proper definition of cultural goods and services. [ 16 ] The UNESCO besides raises inquiries on old instances which the 1970 convention does non covered which is a really good enterprise taken so as to protect our heritage at the upper limit. And furthermore, in 1978 the UNESCO during intergovernmental commission, for advancing the return of cultural belongings for its state of beginning or its damages in instance of illegal appropriation the ICPRCP [ 17 ] was established as a lasting intergovernmental consultative organic structure by the UNESCO. Set up in 1978 by the declaration 20 C4/7.6/5 at the twentieth Session of the UNESCO General Conference of UNESCO, the return and damages commission comprises 22 Member States, which meet every two old ages and can besides form meetings. The chief aim of this commission, is, to seek for new solutions and agencies of easing bilateral dialogues, advancing many-sided and bilateral cooperation intentionally to the damages or return of cultural belongings every bit good as promoting a public information run on the issue, and advancing exchanges of cultural belongings.

Furthermore, the 1970 Convention’s most of import property are a proviso for export enfranchisement. The concerted steps are frequently enshrined in international understandings, that were noted earlier and besides a authorization that parties restitute belongingss within their legal power stolen from museums, memorials and so on. The UNESCO government to protect cultural heritage besides include non-binding declarations and recommendation to magnify the pact model. For illustration the 2003 declaration refering the International Destruction of cultural Heritage mostly responded to the destruction of two prodigious Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan by the Taliban authorities of that state. This declaration addresses the job of knowing devastation, whether in peace clip and wartime. mnbb