New York

07 January 2020

Secretary-General's remarks at Opening of the Exhibition "Recovered Art: The Art of Saving Art" [as delivered]

I thank the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage for organizing this important exhibition. 

Grazie mille. 

Some exhibitions celebrate an artist’s work; others explore an artistic movement or era.

This exhibition is based on a unique premise: it brings together diverse works of art that share a history.
Every masterpiece was stolen – and every masterpiece was subsequently recovered thanks to the determination and investigative expertise of the Italian Carabinieri, often working across several countries.

As a result, this exhibition not only comprises priceless works of art, it also paints a picture of the power of international cooperation.

It has been painful to see how much of humankind’s cultural heritage has been lost in recent years, from Iraq and Syria to Yemen, Mali and Afghanistan. 

Indeed, we face an array of challenges that imperil efforts to protect our common heritage – from the climate crisis to civil unrest – from armed conflict to terrorism.

These threats vary in nature – but there is a common feature integral to the response:  international cooperation.

We have a number of vital international instruments to guide the way, including Security Council Resolution 2347. 

And, of course, UNESCO plays a key role, particularly through its Convention on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property which marks its 50th anniversary this year. 

I commend Italy for helping to lead the cause on the international stage – for strengthening global efforts against illicit trafficking of cultural property – for sharing your knowledge with others around the world – and for prioritizing heritage and culture as tools for peace and dialogue.

Thank you once again for organizing this extraordinary exhibition.

Vi ringrazio per la vostra attenzione e vi auguro una buona visita [Thank you for your attention and I hope you enjoy the exhibition].