Security Council Condemns Destruction, Smuggling of Cultural Heritage by Terrorist Groups, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2347 (2017)

SC/12764
24 March 2017
7907th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Condemns Destruction, Smuggling of Cultural Heritage by Terrorist Groups, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2347 (2017)

The Security Council deplored today the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, religious sites and artefacts, and the smuggling of cultural property by terrorist groups during armed conflict, affirming that such attacks might constitute a war crime and must be brought to justice.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2347 (2017), the 15-member Council recalled its condemnation of any engagement in trade involving Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Nusrah Front, and all other individuals or groups associated with Al-Qaida.  It reiterated that such engagement could constitute financial support for entities designated by the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.

The Council stressed that Member States had the primary responsibility to protect their cultural heritage, and that efforts must comply with the United Nations Charter and respect the principle of sovereignty.  It encouraged Member States to take preventive steps through documentation and consolidation of their nationally owned cultural property in a network of “safe havens”.

Furthermore, the Council welcomed actions by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to preserve cultural heritage in peril and to protect and promote cultural pluralism, encouraging Member States to support them.  Taking note of the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund and the international fund to protect endangered cultural heritage in armed conflicts established in December, the Council also encouraged Member States to provide funds to support preventive and emergency operations.

Briefing members after the text’s adoption, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, said the destruction of cultural heritage was a war crime and tactic of war, and that defending that heritage was a security imperative.  From Palmyra to the Shrine of Mosul, cultural heritage sites were symbols of unity, bearing witness to the dialogue of cultures that had always existed, she said, adding:  “Violent extremists know this, and that is why they seek to destroy it.”

To attack the scourge, some 50 States, working with UNESCO, had strengthened their legislation and were sharing data to dismantle trafficking routes, she said.  Furthermore, UNESCO, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Police Organization (INTERPOL), customs services, the private sector and museums were also coordinating action to protect cultural heritage.  Council resolution 2199 (2015), which prohibited the trade in cultural property from Iraq and Syria and called upon Member States to cooperate in ending it, was yielding quick results.

Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said terrorist groups like ISIL exploited cultural sites to finance their activities while strengthening their links with transnational organized crime.  In that regard, today’s resolution aimed to strengthen international cooperation so as to deprive terrorists of funding and to protect cultural heritage.

“Protecting cultural heritage requires us to make every effort to implement this international legal and normative framework and strengthen international cooperation,” he continued, noting that it demanded a global criminal-justice response that could disrupt organized criminal and terrorist networks, including through anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering action.  To that end, a stronger focus on investigation, cross-border cooperation and exchange of information was needed.  It was also important to bring in public and private-sector partners in order to promote supply-chain integrity and stop the illicit trade in and sale of cultural property.

Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, said the need for action was more urgent than ever. “This crime cannot be allowed to continue unabated,” he said.  The destruction of landmarks was not only reprehensible; it also generated profits for terrorists through trafficking in collusion with organized crime groups.  Those profits funded further acts of terrorism, enabling more destruction and looting of cultural sites and archaeological treasures.

For its part, UNODC was providing technical assistance and helping to build capacity as well as facilitating international cooperation to prevent and combat trafficking in cultural property, he said.  Full implementation of the Convention against Corruption was especially critical because trafficking relied on corrupt officials and dealers.  Member States, for their part, must provide greater resources in the spirit of shared responsibility, he underlined.

Also addressing the Council was Fabrizio Parrulli, Head of Italy’s Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.  He said the Command had investigated the trafficking of almost 800,000 pieces of art and 35,000 people, detaining more than 1,000 people in the defence of cultural heritage.  While INTERPOL provided assistance, it was not enough due to the complex nature of the crime, which called for unique expertise, he said, adding: “We strongly advocate for international cooperation and law enforcement.”

Highlighting national efforts, he said Italy’s Carabinieri had recovered thousands of objects and built legal cases that had resulted in high-profile repatriations of cultural property.  The Command had also helped others to recover their stolen property and had provided training courses, while establishing bilateral liaisons with States on protecting cultural heritage.

During the ensuing discussion, delegates agreed that safeguarding heritage was not only about protecting civilization, it was also vital for security, and played a key role in restoring peace and resolving conflicts.  They acknowledged the important role of UNESCO, INTERPOL and UNODC and shed light on their respective Governments’ steps to support protection initiatives and educate law enforcement and the public about the importance of doing so. 

France’s Minister for Culture and Communication, noting the direct link between the financing of terrorist groups and the illicit trade of cultural goods, welcomed the establishment of cultural safe havens and the international fund to protect at-risk cultural heritage.  France would continue to do its part, he said, including by financing the protection of cultural heritage. 

Italy’s Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that his country, as a partner in the global coalition against Da’esh, intended to promote swift implementation of Council resolution 2199 (2015), raise awareness on the need to protect cultural heritage and increase security at heritage sites. 

Representatives of Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Sweden, Uruguay, Egypt, Russian Federation, China, United States, Ethiopia, Japan, Senegal and the United Kingdom also addressed the Council.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:00 p.m.

Briefings

JEFFREY FELTMAN, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that terrorists, particularly those in armed conflict situations, were destroying lives but also visiting their horrific violence on historical sites and objects.  The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and the trafficking in items of great artistic, religious or cultural significance targeted individuals and communities on cultural and religious grounds, he noted, emphasizing that protecting heritage was therefore not only a cultural issue, but also a security and humanitarian imperative.

Terrorists groups like Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) exploited cultural sites to finance their activities while strengthening their links with transnational organized crime, he continued.  They also destroyed cultural heritage to undermine the power of culture as a bridge between generations and between peoples of different backgrounds or religions.  In that regard, today’s resolution aimed to strengthen international cooperation so as to deprive terrorists of funding and to protect cultural heritage.

Protecting cultural heritage was not new, he continued, pointing out that protection had grown considerably over the past several years.  In creating the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in 2013, the Security Council had established the link between illicit trafficking in cultural objects and the financing of terrorism, he recalled.  Resolution 2322 (2016) urged States to enhance cooperation to prevent and combat the trafficking of cultural property and related offences benefiting terrorist groups.

Furthermore, a strong international legal and normative framework to address those crimes was already in existence, he noted.  It was based on the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Corruption, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences.  “Protecting cultural heritage requires us to make every effort to implement this international legal and normative framework and strengthen international cooperation,” he emphasized.  It demanded a global criminal-justice response that could disrupt organized criminal and terrorist networks, including through anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering action.

He went on to emphasize the need for a stronger focus on investigation, cross-border cooperation and exchange of information.  It was also important to bring in partners from the private and public sectors to promote supply-chain integrity and stop the illicit trade in and sale of cultural property.  The United Nations system, particularly through its Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities, was increasingly supporting efforts by Member States to address those threats through advocacy and capacity-building assistance, he said.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) were already working with the International Police Organization (INTERPOL), the World Customs Organization and other partners to help Member States protect cultural heritage and counter the trafficking of cultural property, he added.

IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), called the deliberate destruction of heritage a war crime and tactic of war in the global strategy of cultural cleansing.  That was why defending cultural heritage was more than a cultural issue.  Rather, it was a security imperative, inseparable from that of defending human lives.  From Palmyra to the Shrine of Mosul, cultural heritage sites were symbols of unity, bearing witness to the dialogue of cultures that had always existed.  “Violent extremists know this, and that is why they seek to destroy it,” she said, adding that resolution 2199 (2015), prohibiting trade in cultural property from Iraq and Syria, was yielding quick results. 

In a global movement launched by UNESCO, some 50 States had strengthened their legislation and were sharing data to dismantle trafficking routes, she continued.  UNESCO, INTERPOL, UNODC, customs services, the private sector and museums were all coordinating new action.  Outlining steps countries by countries — from France to Italy — to protect cultural heritage, she said that UNESCO was focused on coordinating international action.  As soon as fighting ceased in Palmyra and Aleppo, UNESCO dispatched emergency teams.  In Mali, it had mobilized the armed forces on the matter.  Commending the Council for having integrated cultural heritage protection into the mandate of peacekeeping forces, she said UNESCO was working with the International Criminal Court to end impunity for war crimes against culture.

YURY FEDOTOV, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), emphasized that the need for action was more urgent than ever.  The destruction of landmarks was not only reprehensible, he added, it also generated profits for terrorists through trafficking carried out in collusion with organized crime groups.  Those profits funded further acts of terrorism, thereby enabling yet more destruction and looting of cultural sites and archaeological treasures.

“This crime cannot be allowed to continue unabated,” he stressed, noting that UNODC was providing technical assistance and helping to build capacity as well as facilitating international cooperation to prevent and combat trafficking in cultural property.  The support that UNODC provided to Member States had a firm foundation in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

Those instruments were the best hope for preventing and countering the destruction of cultural heritage and the trafficking of cultural objects, as well as for bringing perpetrators to justice, he continued.  Full implementation of the Convention against Corruption was especially critical because trafficking relied on corrupt officials and dealers, he noted.  However, Member States must provide greater resources in the spirit of shared responsibility, he emphasized, noting that his Office was pursuing funding for a global study — to be undertaken in cooperation with UNESCO and others — to identify main trafficking routes, modus operandi and patterns, while also determining the criminal-justice challenges countries faced in order to provide tailored assistance.

FABRIZIO PARRULLI, Commander, Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Italy, said the Command had investigated the trafficking of almost 800,000 pieces of art and 35,000 people, detaining more than 1,000 people in to defence of cultural heritage.  Trafficking in cultural heritage was a common crime, and such objects were smuggled across borders, he noted.  While INTERPOL provided assistance, it was not enough due to the complex nature of the crime, which called for unique expertise.  The only way to protect cultural heritage was cooperation among States and organizations, he emphasized.  “We strongly advocate for international cooperation and law enforcement.”

Italy’s Carabinieri had recovered thousands of objects and built legal cases that had resulted in high-profile repatriations of cultural property, he said, adding that the Command had also helped others to recover their stolen property.  In order to realize successful outcomes, it was essential to share information and lessons learned, he said, underlining the Carabinieri’s possession of a database containing more than 1.2 million images captured in the course of investigations.  It also provided training courses for other States, while establishing bilateral liaisons with them on protecting cultural heritage, he said.

Statements

AUDREY AZOULAY, Minister for Culture and Communication of France, described deliberate attacks on human heritage as “stripping history of its lessons”.  Underscoring the importance of its mandate, she said UNESCO played a crucial role in protecting culture and reminding humanity that it was bound by heritage.  UNODC and INTERPOL played a vital role in combating the trafficking of global cultural goods.  Protection of heritage was not only a matter of civilization, but also of security.  The illicit trafficking of cultural goods was often used to fund terrorist groups and perpetuate a conflict.  Heritage played a key role in the restoration of peace and conflict resolution.  Therefore, the international community, particularly the Council, must protect it.

Commending today’s resolution for its focus on protecting heritage sites, she noted previously adopted texts had focused on specific countries and cases such as Iraq and Syria.  She welcomed the establishment of cultural havens as well as an international fund to protect at-risk cultural heritage.  Underscoring that today’s resolution was a holistic text, she welcomed the direct link it made between the financing of terrorist groups and the illicit trade of cultural goods.  France would continue to play its part, including by financing the protection of cultural heritage. 

VINCENZO AMENDOLA, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, said unprecedented amounts of looting and cultural theft had been financing terrorist groups.  Underscoring the role of UNESCO, he outlined various ways Italy had supported cultural heritage protection initiatives.  As a partner of the global coalition against Da’esh, Italy aimed to promote swift implementation of Council resolution 2199 (2015), raise awareness about the need to protect cultural heritage and increase security at heritage sites.  The Council and international community must unite on the issue, he added, welcoming today’s historic resolution. 

The destruction of cultural heritage by terrorist groups and organized criminal networks was an issue of broader relevance and must remain at the top of the international security agenda, he continued.  Today’s resolution addressed the looting and trafficking of goods at the national and international levels.  Harmonized legislation and coordinated solutions were critical in strengthening all forms of cooperation to combat the destruction of cultural heritage.  Integrating the cultural dimension into conflict resolution was vital as well.  

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), strongly condemning the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage by terrorist groups such as Da’esh and Al-Qaida, said they represented heinous acts and undermined cultural roots.  There was no justification.  The international community must use all available means to prevent such acts.  Despite various measures, terrorist groups continued to steal and destroy cultural heritage amid the absence of necessary control mechanisms.  Tax havens were being used to commit crimes, he pointed out, calling upon all to strengthen investigations into such activity.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said over 55 cultural properties were in danger, noting that 21 of them were located in the Middle East, including in Palestine, Yemen, Libya and Syria.  As a member of the World Heritage Committee, Kazakhstan helped examine reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties and asking States parties to the World Heritage Convention to take action when properties were not being properly managed.  In that regard, Kazakhstan had co-sponsored the Committee’s decisions with a view to safeguarding cultural heritage sites.  States and international organizations must work closely to put an end to the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage, he said, encouraging those with expertise to provide training to others and support UNESCO’s emergency fund.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said that despite a framework of rules to protect cultural property, the illicit trade in cultural goods continued, including in his country where heritage objects were being destroyed, looted, excavated and trafficked across borders as a result of the attempted annexation of Crimea and the Russian Federation’s military intervention in the Donbas region.  As non-State actors and terrorist groups were systematically pillaging cultural sites to fuel their atrocities, decisive actions must break that vicious cycle.  Highlighting newly adopted resolution 2347 (2017) for its support in establishing in-country safe zones, creating inventories and bringing to justice perpetrators, he welcomed the call for close cooperation among law enforcement and customs agencies and commended the recent International Criminal Court decision to convict a war criminal for targeted attacks against religious buildings and monuments.  The request that the Secretary-General submit a report to the Council on implementation of the newly adopted text should provide an opportunity to examine the problem and develop concrete recommendations and durable solutions.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said the destruction, looting and trafficking of cultural goods diminished knowledge, beauty and history in the world.  During post-conflict processes, communities must be rebuilt based on trust.  The destruction of cultural heritage risked all that.  Armed groups financed their activities through the illegal trafficking of cultural objects.  Underscoring that the protection of cultural property was firmly rooted in customary international law, he noted States’ duty to investigate destruction of heritage and bring perpetrators to justice.  Welcoming the role of the International Criminal Court, he said, for its part, Sweden had taken steps to implement Council resolution 2199 (2015) and had launched a public awareness-raising campaign with UNESCO on the protection of heritage sites.  He also noted the contributions of UNODC and INTERPOL in combating the trafficking of cultural goods.  

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said international cooperation was crucial in preventing trafficking in cultural objects, goods and works, and in preventing such criminal activity from financing terrorism.  Young people must raise their voices to combat the destruction of cultural heritage as well.  He also noted the key roles played by UNESCO, UNODC and INTERPOL in protecting sites.  The establishment of cultural safe havens should meet the needs of relevant countries and priority must be given to preserve cultural goods in cases of conflict.  There must be close cooperation between the safe haven and the source country and a plan for the transport of the goods back to the country.  Through respect for and protection of cultural heritage humanity could forge peace between nations.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), stressing that safeguarding cultural heritage from all destructive acts was an extremely sensitive matter, said “It is no less important than other topics”.  Cultural sites and museums were closely linked to the history and the identity of people and nations.  To protect those historical properties, States must step up efforts while respecting the principle of sovereignty and non-interference in others’ internal affairs.  It was also essential to prevent trafficking in areas of armed conflict by creating safe havens for cultural goods and providing necessary support to UNESCO.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) expressed regret over the serious damage to cultural properties by terrorist groups like Al-Nusrah Front and ISIL.  It was critical to stamp out their barbaric terrorism in order to protect historical properties.  The international community had not yet been able to cut off the financing of terrorist groups.  In that regard, States must submit available information to the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee to make progress.  Syria had long suffered from that phenomenon, he said, noting that Palmyra, one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, had been destroyed by ISIL.  Urgent action must be taken to stop them, he said, calling on States to provide assistance to protect cultural heritage.  While doing so, it was important to avoid duplication and ensure the proper division of labour.

LIU JIEYI (China) urged the international community to cut off the smuggling channels, emphasizing the need to scale up protection efforts and provide support while ensuring full respect for the national ownership of all cultural heritage sites.  Terrorism had become the main threat to cultural heritage, and international cooperation in protecting it was crucial, as were sharing information and supporting national law-enforcement initiatives.  The Security Council, UNESCO and UNODC must strengthen their synergies in order to protect sites around the world, he said, pledging that China would continue to work with the international community against the trafficking and looting of cultural heritage.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said those engaged in conflict and terror deliberately destroyed cultural heritage in order to incite fear and undermine Governments, deploring the destruction of cultural heritage from Afghanistan to Iraq.  However, cooperation in international law enforcement to counter destruction and destabilizing activities had shown results, she said,, while cautioning that there was no “one-size-fits-all” approach to combating trafficking or the destruction of cultural heritage sites.  Complex situations around the world warranted a variety of responses, she said, noting that some countries had demonstrated a capacity to combat attacks on cultural heritage.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), welcoming the resolution’s unanimous adoption, said it added value and complemented existing international legal documents in the protection of cultural heritage.  Acknowledging the important work of UNESCO, he said it was the custodian of that shared heritage.  “We all have witnessed that armed groups actively damaged cultural heritages as a war tactic, terrorizing civilians,” he said, stressing the need for measures that would refrain terrorist groups from attacking.  In that regard, the Security Council’s role was critical, he said, recalling its obligation to maintain international peace and security.

HIROSHI MINAMI (Japan), while describing the text’s adoption as a significant step forward, noted that the world was witnessing tragic incidents by terrorist groups that targeted cultural heritage to achieve their nefarious objectives.  Sharing others’ widespread concerns, he underscored the need for collective response through capacity-building and the exchange of lessons learned.  Cognizant of the issue’s importance, Japan had contributed $68 million to the World Heritage Fund.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said the spread of armed conflict caused by the radicalization of terrorist groups had increased the destruction, looting and trafficking of cultural goods.  Urging the international community to adopt a new and tailored strategy to deal with reprehensible actions aimed at erasing history, he welcomed the creation of a registry for tracking destroyed, looted, or stolen goods.  Perpetrators of such attacks must be brought to justice, he added.  While protecting cultural heritage was the State’s responsibility, the international community, and particularly the United Nations, must support national efforts to establish response mechanisms, he said, emphasizing also the need to scale up bilateral, regional and subregional cooperation, in accordance with UNESCO measures.

PETER WILSON (United Kingdom), Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity, saying the world was witnessing a systematic and corrosive assault on the very fabric of identity, whether in Timbuktu or Palmyra.  That assault could constitute a war crime, he warned, noting that the destruction of religious and cultural sites could fuel sectarian violence.  Urging the Council to respond to the destruction of sites as it would to any other threat to international peace and security, he emphasized that implementation of today’s resolution was crucial.  The United Kingdom had created a fund to safeguard cultural heritage in conflict-affected countries, he said, describing protection initiatives and heritage projects funded by his country in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The United Kingdom had also established a cultural property protection unit intended to educate military forces on the need to protect cultural sites, he said, underlining the importance of demonstrating the existence of real consequences for perpetrators of crimes against protected sites.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2347 (2017) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001), 1483 (2003), 1546 (2004), 2056 (2012), 2071 (2012), 2085 (2012), 2100 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2195 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2249 (2015), 2253 (2015) and 2322 (2016), as well as its Presidential Statement S/PRST/2012/26,

Taking note of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference’s resolution 38 C/ 48, by which Member States have adopted the Strategy for the Reinforcement of UNESCO’s Actions for the Protection of Culture and the Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in the Event of Armed Conflict, and have invited the Director General to elaborate an action plan in order to implement the strategy,

Reaffirming its primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming further the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed,

Emphasizing that the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, and the looting and smuggling of cultural property in the event of armed conflicts, notably by terrorist groups, and the attempt to deny historical roots and cultural diversity in this context can fuel and exacerbate conflict and hamper post-conflict national reconciliation, thereby undermining the security, stability, governance, social, economic and cultural development of affected States,

Noting with grave concern the involvement of non-state actors, notably terrorist groups, in the destruction of cultural heritage and the trafficking in cultural property and related offences, in particular at the continued threat posed to international peace and security by the Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, and reaffirming its resolve to address all aspects of that threat,

Also noting with concern that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities are generating income from engaging directly or indirectly in the illegal excavation and in the looting and smuggling of cultural property from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites, which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and to strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks,

Noting with grave concern the serious threat posed to cultural heritage by landmines and unexploded ordnance,

Strongly concerned about the links between the activities of terrorists and organized criminal groups that, in some cases, facilitate criminal activities, including trafficking in cultural property, illegal revenues and financial flows as well as money laundering, bribery and corruption,

Recalling Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) which requires that all States shall prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts and refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to individuals, groups, undertakings or entities involved in such acts, and other resolutions that emphasize the need for Member States to continue exercising vigilance over relevant financial transactions and improve information-sharing capabilities and practices, in line with applicable international law, within and between governments through relevant authorities,

Recognizing the indispensable role of international cooperation in crime prevention and criminal justice responses to counter trafficking in cultural property and related offences in a comprehensive and effective manner, stressing that the development and maintenance of fair and effective criminal justice systems should be a part of any strategy to counter terrorism and transnational organized crime and recalling in this respect the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto,

Recalling the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 14 May 1954 and its Protocols of 14 May 1954 and 26 March 1999, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 14 November 1970, the Convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 16 November 1972, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions,

Noting the ongoing efforts of the Council of Europe Committee on Offences relating to Cultural Property concerning a legal framework to address illicit trafficking in cultural property,

Commending the efforts undertaken by Member States in order to protect and safeguard cultural heritage in the context of armed conflicts and taking note of the Declaration issued by Ministers of Culture participating in the International Conference “Culture as an Instrument of Dialogue among Peoples”, held in Milan on 31 July-1 August 2015 as well as the International Conference on the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East, held in Paris on 8 September 2015, and the Conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage held in Abu Dhabi on 3 December 2016 and its declaration,

Welcoming the central role played by UNESCO in protecting cultural heritage and promoting culture as an instrument to bring people closer together and foster dialogue, including through the #Unite4Heritage campaign, and the central role of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and INTERPOL in preventing and countering all forms and aspects of trafficking in cultural property and related offences, including through fostering broad law enforcement and judicial cooperation, and in raising awareness on such trafficking,

Also recognizing the role of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, in identifying and raising awareness on the challenges related to the illicit trade of cultural property as it relates to the financing of terrorism pursuant to resolutions 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015), and welcoming the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidance on recommendation 5 on the criminalization of terrorist financing for any purpose, in line with these resolutions,

Expressing in this regard concern at the continuing use in a globalized society, by terrorists and their supporters, of new information and communications technologies, in particular the internet, to facilitate terrorist acts, and condemning their use to fund terrorist acts through the illicit trade in cultural property,

Underlining the importance that all relevant United Nations entities coordinate their efforts while implementing their respective mandates,

Noting the recent decision by the International Criminal Court, which for the first time convicted a defendant for the war crimes of intentionally directing attacks against religious buildings and historic monuments and buildings,

“1.   Deplores and condemns the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, inter alia destruction of religious sites and artefacts, as well as the looting and smuggling of cultural property from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites, in the context of armed conflicts, notably by terrorist groups;

“2.   Recalls its condemnation of any engagement in direct or indirect trade involving ISIL, Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and reiterates that such engagement could constitute financial support for entities designated by the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and may lead to further listings by the Committee;

“3.   Also condemns systematic campaigns of illegal excavation, and looting and pillage of cultural heritage, in particular those committed by ISIL, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities;

“4.   Affirms that directing unlawful attacks against sites and buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, or historic monuments may constitute, under certain circumstances and pursuant to international law a war crime and that perpetrators of such attacks must be brought to justice;

“5.   Stresses that Member States have the primary responsibility in protecting their cultural heritage and that efforts to protect cultural heritage in the context of armed conflicts should be in conformity with the Charter, including its purposes and principles, and international law, and should respect the sovereignty of all States;

“6.   Invites, in this regard, the United Nations and all other relevant organizations to continue providing Member States, upon their request and based on their identified needs, with all necessary assistance;

“7.   Encourages all Member States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 14 May 1954 and its Protocols, as well as other relevant international conventions;

“8.   Requests Member States to take appropriate steps to prevent and counter the illicit trade and trafficking in cultural property and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, and religious importance originating from a context of armed conflict, notably from terrorist groups, including by prohibiting cross-border trade in such illicit items where States have a reasonable suspicion that the items originate from a context of armed conflict, notably from terrorist groups, and which lack clearly documented and certified provenance, thereby allowing for their eventual safe return, in particular items illegally removed from Iraq since 6 August 1990 and from Syria since 15 March 2011, and recalls in this regard that States shall ensure that no funds, other financial assets or other economic resources are made available, directly or indirectly, by their nationals or persons within their territory for the benefit of ISIL and individuals, groups, entities or undertakings associated with ISIL or Al-Qaida in accordance with relevant resolutions;

“9.   Urges Member States to introduce effective national measures at the legislative and operational levels where appropriate, and in accordance with obligations and commitments under international law and national instruments, to prevent and counter trafficking in cultural property and related offences, including by considering to designate such activities that may benefit organized criminal groups, terrorists or terrorist groups, as a serious crime in accordance with article 2(b) of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

“10.  Encourages Member States to propose listings of ISIL, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities involved in the illicit trade in cultural property to be considered by the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al‑Qaida Sanctions Committee, that meet the designation criteria set forth in resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015);

“11.  Urges Member States to develop, including, upon request, with the assistance of UNODC, in cooperation with UNESCO and INTERPOL as appropriate, broad law enforcement and judicial cooperation in preventing and countering all forms and aspects of trafficking in cultural property and related offences that benefit or may benefit organized criminal groups, terrorists or terrorist groups;

“12.  Calls upon Member States to request and provide cooperation in investigations, prosecutions, seizure and confiscation as well as the return, restitution or repatriation of trafficked, illicitly exported or imported, stolen, looted, illicitly excavated or illicitly traded cultural property, and judicial proceedings, through appropriate channels and in accordance with domestic legal frameworks as well as with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto and relevant regional, sub-regional and bilateral agreements;

“13.  Welcomes the actions undertaken by UNESCO within its mandate to safeguard and preserve cultural heritage in peril and actions for the protection of culture and the promotion of cultural pluralism in the event of armed conflict, and encourages Member States to support such actions;

“14.  Encourages Member States to enhance, as appropriate, bilateral, subregional and regional cooperation through joint initiatives within the scope of relevant UNESCO programmes;

“15.  Takes note of the UNESCO Heritage emergency fund as well as of the international fund for the protection of endangered cultural heritage in armed conflict as announced in Abu Dhabi on 3 December 2016, and of other initiatives in this regard, and encourages Member States to provide financial contributions to support preventive and emergency operations, fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property, as well as undertake all appropriate efforts for the recovery of cultural heritage, in the spirit of the principles of the UNESCO Conventions;

“16.  Also encourages Member States to take preventive measures to safeguard their nationally owned cultural property and their other cultural property of national importance in the context of armed conflicts, including as appropriate through documentation and consolidation of their cultural property in a network of “safe havens” in their own territories to protect their property, while taking into account the cultural, geographic, and historic specificities of the cultural heritage in need of protection, and notes the draft UNESCO Action Plan, which contains several suggestions to facilitate these activities;

“17.  Calls upon Member States, in order to prevent and counter trafficking of cultural property illegally appropriated and exported in the context of armed conflicts, notably by terrorist groups, to consider adopting the following measures, in relation to such cultural property:

a.    Introducing or improving cultural heritage’s and properties’ local and national inventory lists, including through digitalized information when possible, and making them easily accessible to relevant authorities and agencies, as appropriate;

b.    Adopting adequate and effective regulations on export and import, including certification of provenance where appropriate, of cultural property, consistent with international standards;

c.    Supporting and contributing to update the World Customs Organization (WCO) Harmonized System Nomenclature and Classification of Goods;

d.    Establishing, where appropriate, in accordance with national legislation and procedures, specialized units in central and local administrations as well as appointing customs and law enforcement dedicated personnel, and providing them, as well as public prosecutors, with effective tools and adequate training;

e.    Establishing procedures and where appropriate databases devoted to collect information on criminal activities related to cultural property and on illicitly excavated, exported, imported or traded, stolen, trafficked or missing cultural property;

f.    Using and contributing to the INTERPOL Database of Stolen Works of Art, UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws, and WCO ARCHEO Platform, and relevant current national databases, as well as providing relevant data and information, as appropriate, on investigations and prosecutions of relevant crimes and related outcome to UNODC portal SHERLOC and on seizures of cultural property to the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team;

g.    Engaging museums, relevant business associations and antiquities market participants on standards of provenance documentation, differentiated due diligence and all measures to prevent the trade of stolen or illegally traded cultural property;

h.    Providing, where available, to relevant industry stakeholders and associations operating within their jurisdiction lists of archaeological sites, museums and excavation storage houses that are located in territory under the control of ISIL or any other group listed by the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee;

i.    Creating educational programmes at all levels on the protection of cultural heritage as well as raising public awareness about illicit trafficking of cultural property and its prevention;

j.    Taking appropriate steps to inventory cultural property and other items of archeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific and religious importance which have been illegally removed, displaced or transferred from armed conflict areas, and coordinate with relevant UN entities and international actors, in order to ensure the safe return of all listed items;

“18.  Encourages Members States, relevant United Nations entities, in accordance with their existing mandate, and international actors in a position to do so to provide assistance in demining of cultural sites and objects upon request of affected States;

“19.  Affirms that the mandate of United Nations peacekeeping operations, when specifically mandated by the Security Council and in accordance with their rules of engagement, may encompass, as appropriate, assisting relevant authorities, upon their request, in the protection of cultural heritage from destruction, illicit excavation, looting and smuggling in the context of armed conflicts, in collaboration with UNESCO, and that such operations should operate carefully when in the vicinity of cultural and historical sites;

“20.  Calls upon UNESCO, UNODC, INTERPOL, WCO and other relevant international organizations, as appropriate and within their existing mandates, to assist Member States in their efforts to prevent and counter destruction and looting of and trafficking in cultural property in all forms;

“21.  Requests the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee to continue, within its existing mandate, to provide the Committee with relevant information regarding the illicit trade of cultural property;

“22.  Also requests the Secretary-General, with the support of UNODC, UNESCO and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, as well as other relevant United Nations bodies, to submit to the Council a report on the implementation of the present resolution before the end of the year;

“23.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

For information media. Not an official record.