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Bamako Appeal

Workshop on the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property

Bamako 12 - 14 Oct. 1994

Museum professionals, police and customs officers who met during the regional Workshop on the struggle against illicit traffic in cultural property in Bamako from 12 to 14 October 1994,

Having in mind the Appeal launched in Arusha, in September 1993, by their colleagues from eastern and southern Africa,

Are launching a solemn Appeal to international organizations, decision makers and the greater public in order to stop the haemorrhaging of cultural heritage from Africa.

The participants defined strategies whose application should impede this disaster:

  • The participants announce the launching by museums of awareness and training activities for police and customs officers in order to allow them to better identify protected cultural objects, and with a view to the creation of specialized customs and police services. They request ICOM and UNESCO to prepare a handbook and teaching materials to this effect.
  • They propose the creation in each country of a flexible structure associating museums, police and customs in order to facilitate the urgent transmission of information on stolen cultural objects to INTERPOL and the regional liaison office of the Customs Cooperation Council.
  • Museum professionals undertake to cooperate with local communities, schools and media in order to increase public awareness of the necessity to protect and preserve the cultural heritage.
  • Participants ask for the organization, as soon as possible, of a summit of Ministers of Culture of African countries on the problem of illicit traffic. They also ask that the issue be placed on the agenda of the next Conference of the Organization for African Unity, namely in order to invite African countries which have not yet adopted an appropriate legislation to do so, and also in order to invite African States and countries importing cultural objects from Africa which are not yet States parties to the UNESCO 1970 Convention against illicit traffic to ratify this instrument without delay.
  • To this end, they recommend to the States in the region to fully utilize the mechanisms of international cooperation provided by that Convention, following the example of Mali which has submitted with success to the USA a request for the ban of import into the USA of cultural objects illegally exported from Mali. They also support the preparation of a UNIDROIT draft convention.
  • They request ICOM and UNESCO to send missions to the African countries which are in situations of armed conflict with a view to taking urgent measures to safeguard cultural objects which are threatened.
  • In case of thefts or illegally exported cultural property, information on these objects being necessary for their recovery, the participants request that special efforts be undertaken at national level and with international cooperation in order that museums, researchers and archaeologists can receive sufficient resources for the preparation of inventories and documentation, and for the protection of archaeological and excavation sites.
  • They recommend the strict application of the ICOM Code of Ethics as far as collection and acquisitions are concerned and they suggest the study of a Code of Ethics for archaeological and anthropological research and they are launching an appeal to specialized laboratories in order to forbid dating and other analysis which could valorize objects of dubious origin.
  • They insist on regional cooperation between museums and their professionals to share information and undertake common policies for research and exhibitions. They are requesting that this Appeal be officially presented to the Council of Ministers of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and of the Arab Maghreb Union.

    Bamako, October 14, 1994



Updated: 11 July 2005