Qatar National Library (QNL), in its role as the IFLA Preservation and Conservation Regional Centre for Arab countries and the Middle East, is holding a workshop titled 'Countering Trafficking of Cultural Property Including Documentary Heritage' from September 5 to 8. The interdisciplinary workshop, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and the US, Italian and French embassies in Qatar, examines best practices in combating the trafficking of antiquities as well as programs and policies that protect cultural heritage and property rights.
The opening session of the workshop was attended by HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, Minister of State and President of QNL, along with Jean-Baptiste Faivre, ambassador of France; Alessandro Prunas, ambassador of Italy; Rajeh Hussein Badi, ambassador of Yemen; Jassim Ahmed al-Buainain, director of the Libraries Department at the Ministry of Culture; Rachel Mikeska, public affairs officer at the US embassy and Tan Huism, executive director, QNL.
The four-day workshop is being presented by international and local experts from Qatar Museums; the Art Crime Team from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Carabinieri Unit of Rome for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Italy; the National Directorate of Customs Intelligence and Investigation, France; and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, United Arab Emirates, among others.
Participants from various industry sectors across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region explore research and conservation techniques, funding mechanisms, advocacy methods, educational outreach efforts, and law enforcement strategies designed to protect cultural property and artefacts. Dr al-Kawari, said: “The library has been a pioneer in the fight against trafficking of documentary heritage through initiatives such as the launch in 2020 of the Himaya Project, an initiative aimed at engaging international and regional organisations to strengthen and coordinate efforts to combat the illicit trafficking and circulation of documentary heritage in the Mena region. Thank you to all our collaborators for organising this important workshop which would have not been possible without the support of the Ministry of Culture and the French, Italian and US embassies.”
Faivre, noted: “Combating the trafficking of antiquities is at the very heart of France's long-term commitment to protecting the cultural heritage of humanity. The participation of French experts in the workshop reflects our willingness to support collaboration between international experts to identify and share best practices and to establish guidance in preventing the trafficking of cultural property and documentary heritage.”
“Italy is deeply committed to the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage, with particular attention to crisis contexts, including the wider Mena region. Indeed, Italy is at the forefront of many international activities carried out within international forums such as Unesco, the G20 and the conference of the Ministers of Culture of the Euro-Mediterranean Region, of which Italy has been one of the main supporters,” said Prunas.
Al-Buainain explained: “It is a pleasure for us to be collaborating on this important workshop that will provide participants with key tools and information in combating the trafficking of cultural property in the region. Initiatives such as these are essential in providing a clear and strong response to stem this growing issue. We will continue to work with the library and other institutions to raise awareness, enact legislation and address this grave threat in a way that preserves the historical rights of nations and peoples.”
“Historic sites, objects, and documents connect us to our cultural origins. They are vital tools not only for scholarship and education, but also for transmitting each society’s values and identity to future generations. The US government is pleased to participate in this important workshop with experts from the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security,” added Mikeska.
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