G20 CWG hosts global thematic webinar on protection, restitution of cultural property

New Delhi, 28 Mar: The Culture Working Group (CWG) under India’s G20 Presidency in association with UNESCO on Tuesday organised the global thematic webinar on protection and restitution of cultural property, during which it was emphasised that there is a crucial need to improve documentation, risk management and emergency planning processes to prevent such illicit trafficking.
The webinar witnessed fruitful discussions and sharing of best practices on the long-standing issue of illicit trafficking and restitution of cultural property, bringing together 40 experts from 28 countries including G20 members and guest nations, as well as 12 international organisations, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.
Govind Mohan, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, and Chair, CWG in his opening remarks during thematic webinar suggested that illicit trafficking, which “may be driven in part by poverty and greed, is primarily exacerbated by poor education and a lack of awareness”.
“Regardless of the cause, illicit trafficking diminishes the collective memory of people and communities, weakens their sense of identity, and undermines the exercise of their cultural rights,” he said.
During the webinar, it was emphasised that “there is a crucial need to improve the inventorying, documentation, risk management, and emergency planning processes” to prevent illicit trafficking, the statement said.
Furthermore, it was highlighted that promoting an ethical art market, conducting provenance research, and ensuring transparency, particularly in the G20 members with the biggest art markets, is of utmost importance. The challenges posed by online trading were also discussed, and the urgent need to strengthen regulations of the online trade of cultural property to curb illicit trafficking was suggested, it said.
The event was held with UNESCO as the knowledge partner.
Many countries shared examples of recent processes of restitution of cultural property, reflecting notably progress towards ethical collection management, while also highlighting a growing attention of the general public. Some speakers shared specific good practices in that regard, including the creation of a dedicated national committee for the return and repatriation of cultural property, the statement said.
“Several recommendations were formulated to the attention of the G20 membership, including the creation of national institutes of provenance research or the creation of exchange platforms to share examples of cooperation on the return and restitution of cultural property,” it said.
A consolidated report of the four global thematic webinars will be produced and shared with G20 members, guest nations and international organisations at the third CWG meeting due in Hampi, Karnataka from July 15-18. The aim of this report is to be a legacy of the joint work, deliberations, and discussions of the CWG process, with a view to ensure knowledge building over time, the ministry said.
Global thematic webinars on priority two, three and four are scheduled for April 13, 19 and 20, respectively, it said.
The first speaking session of the first global thematic webinar on ‘Protection & Restitution of Cultural Heritage’ came to a close with an open discussion and a question and answers session. (PTI)