Egypt’s Ambassador to Paris Ihab Badawi - Press photo
CAIRO - 28 October 2019: At the conclusion of its 207th session, the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the resolution submitted by Egypt.
The Egyptian resolution is entitled “Promote the Implementation of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.” It deals with the sales of antiquities in some international auction houses and their practices that contradict with the convention.
Egypt's Ambassador to Paris and Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ihab Badawi said that the proposal comes within the framework of the foreign affairs and antiquities ministries' efforts to recover antiquities. It aims to activate the role of the organization in combatting illegal trafficking of cultural property.
He explained that the decision's importance stems from being the first UNESCO decision to directly highlight the practices of some international auction houses that are contrary to the provisions of the 1970 Convention.
UNESCO regrets that some auction houses have continued to sell antiques without submitting documents proving their origin. In this regard, the director-general of the organization is called upon to intensify efforts to promote the UNESCO International Code of Ethics for Traders of Cultural Property.
The permanent representative of Egypt to UNESCO pointed out that the resolution also stipulates that the 50th anniversary of the convention will be utilized next year to organize a series of activities raising awareness of the treaty.
It also includes a proposal to declare November 14 of each year as an International Day to Combat Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property. He added that the explanatory memorandum of the resolution stressed that any complacency in the fight against the phenomenon of illicit trafficking is in the interest of smugglers and terrorist groups, thus providing them more incentives to loot cultural property.
Badawi noted that Egypt was re-elected to chair the 1970 sub-committee in May. The committee has been chaired by Egypt since May 2018. A panel discussion was previously held on the challenges facing countries in the recovery and the return of their looted antiquities from abroad.
In the same context, Badawi further pointed out that in the framework of Egypt's current presidency of the African Union, Egypt's delegation during the recent discussions witnessed by the UNESCO stressed the importance of redoubling the organization's efforts that support the capacity of African countries to restore their cultural property as contained in the fifth axis of the 2063 Agenda for Africa's Development; a position that has been welcomed and supported by African countries.