On 15-16 June this year, an international conference "The Nicosia Convention: criminal legal response to criminal offences related to cultural property" will take place in Riga within the framework of the Latvian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The current situation in Ukraine, where both movable and immovable cultural heritage is under threat, collections of cultural and historical value are being purposefully stolen, and the illegally acquired cultural objects may be smuggled out, makes it necessary to raise the issue of preventing the illegal circulation of cultural objects. The conference will discuss the role of the Nicosia Convention in preventing criminal offences related to cultural monuments, as well as responding to offences related to cultural property in conflict situations and afterwards.
Criminal offences against cultural property form an explicitly global problem that requires global solutions. The purpose of the conference is therefore to promote the Nicosia Convention and raise the recognition of the Council of Europe's work on cultural heritage by encouraging countries to sign and ratify the Convention to contribute to the fight against the illegal circulation of cultural property. States should take concerted actions to establish mechanisms to exchange information, learn from the experiences of other Member States and achieve better law enforcement coordination to prevent and combat these criminal offences.
The conference will be opened by the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Culture of Latvia, and attended by experts from Latvian and foreign governments, including from Ukraine, representatives of the Ministries of Justice and Culture, law enforcement agencies, judges and public prosecutors, customs agencies, representatives of competent international and European institutions and organisations, academics and other cultural representatives, who will share their experiences and discuss the issue of crimes against cultural property today.
The international conference will be organised in four sessions, followed by interactive discussions:
- Session 1 - criminal prosecution for damage, destruction of and trafficking in cultural property;
- Session 2 - challenges related to cultural heritage damaged and destroyed during the conflicts;
- Session 3 - good practices and experience exchange;
- Session 4 - international cooperation in criminal matters.
The conference is organised by the Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the European Committee on Crime Problems and the Council of Europe's Committee on Culture, Heritage and Landscapes. For more information on the conference, visit On the Ministry of Justice website.
The Nicosia Convention is the only international agreement that criminalises the destruction, damage of and illicit trafficking in cultural property. Latvia is one of the countries that has already ratified the Convention.
Read the Nicosia Convention brochure in English on the Council of Europe website, as well as the video produced by the National Heritage Board of Latvia on the protection and circulation of cultural objects
In response to threats to cultural heritage, the International Council of Museums (ICOMOS) prepares lists of cultural objects at risk to draw the attention of those involved in the circulation of cultural objects to objects that might appear on the market. The list of Ukrainian heritage sites can be found here.