Peace Palace | The Hague, the Netherlands
16 September 2013

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Walk of Truth hosted a round table on
“Art trafficking and restitution — Lessons learned from Cyprus and Afghanistan” at the Peace Palace on 16 September 2013. The event featured presentations on the protection of cultural heritage, focusing on art trafficking and looting in Cyprus and Afghanistan.

At the conclusion of the round table, Walk of Truth in partnership with Prof Dr Willy Bruggeman and the Belgian Police Council proposed to create an integrated model of cooperation between different stakeholders in the protection of cultural heritage. Since 2013, the draft roadmap proposed by Karen de Cock has been developed into a full-fledged model of cooperation by Walk of Truth and our partners.

Chairman: Prof Dr Wouter Veraart, Professor of Legal Philosophy at VU University, Amsterdam

Keynote Speakers:

  • Tasoula Hadjitofi, initiator, Founder of Walk of Truth
  • Steven van Hoogstraten, co-initiator, General Director of the Carnegie Foundation
  • Prof Dr Willy Bruggeman, co-initiator, Chairman of the Belgian Federal Police Council and former Deputy Director of Europol
  • Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Road Map: Karen de Cock, Process Manager-Coordinator at the Belgian Federal Police

Recommendations:
FIGHT LOOTING AND TRAFFICKING
We will initiate actions to combat the looting and trafficking of artefacts from conflict zones. National and international conflicts continue to proliferate and the market for illegally obtained antiquities grows.

BOLSTER EXISTING TREATIES
We advocate the reinforcement of international treaties on the protection of cultural heritage. While they are a good starting point, they often lack the teeth to combat looting. This is because there is no mechanism to monitor their implementation and no system to penalise countries that do not apply them effectively.

REVAMP LEGISLATION
We support the revision of existing legislation. Statutes of limitation are on the side of possessors and legislation gives limited scope for repatriating antiquities.

HARMONISE STANDARDS, COORDINATE LAW ENFORCEMENT
We believe in greater global harmonisation of standards. We don’t expect nations to harmonise their legal systems, but we encourage streamlining of certain processes, for example in the registration and authentication of antiquities. We support coordination between national and supranational law authorities since artefacts can easily cross national and regional borders.

EMPLOY ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISMS
We urge alternatives ways for settling disputes over artefacts in lieu of costly, long, and often unsuccessful legal campaigns.

SECURE A REFUGE FOR HOMELESS ARTS
We promote the creation of a temporary refuge for homeless artefacts in The Hague. We want to shelter these artefacts and showcase their stories until they can return home.

ESTABLISH A MORAL CLIMATE
We support the establishment of a moral climate to facilitate the repatriation of artefacts. Awareness campaigns, educational programmes for children, media coverage and advocacy are vital for conveying the message that the looting and trafficking of heritage is immoral/wrong. It is crucial that government officials cooperate with the legal art trade and independent activists, who often have greater flexibility and room to manoeuvre.

ENGAGE THE PUBLIC
We strive to mobilise the public and recruit ordinary citizens alongside other stakeholders in protecting cultural heritage.

CREATE AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
We are developing a model of cooperation between different shareholders for the protection of cultural heritage.

 

Round Table Programme (PDF)