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Declaration of Cuenca

Workshop on the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property

Cuenca, Ecuador 10 - 15 Sept. 1995


The Regional UNESCO-ICOM Workshop on Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property, which took place in the City of Cuenca, Ecuador, with the participation of representatives of the cultural institutions of the Member States of Latin America, of INTERPOL, of the World Customs Organization, of UNIDROIT, of the International Council of Museums, Organization of American States, and of the Indigenous Organizations of the Region,

CONSIDERING :

1. That the economic processes of globalization entail standardization of life styles, presenting a threat to the survival of cultural diversity, and at the same time a reaction, towards reaffirmation of identity and the value of what is one's own;

2. That the identity of Latin America is based essentially upon a cultural heritage which is the product of its historical tradition, enriched by the contributions of different cultures, which have generated diverses expressions of being, producing a unity, which, at the same time, shows a wealth of diversity;

3. That this heritage is subject to systematic and ever-increasing expropriation, a fact that threatens human development and international relations;

4. That, furthermore, this contributes to irreparable loss of ethical values, among the populace of the Region, and diminishes the welfare of our peoples;

5. That the State has diminished its governing role, as the custodian entity responsible for the social function and capitalization of the benefits of the cultural heritage;

6. That the adherence of countries to the Conventions of UNESCO 1970 and UNIDROIT 1995, complementary on "MEASURES WHICH SHOULD BE ADOPTED IN ORDER TO PROHIBIT AND TO PREVENT THE ILLICIT IMPORT, EXPORT AND TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP OF CULTURAL PROPERTY," AND ON "RESTITUTION OF STOLEN OR ILLEGALLY EXPORTED CULTURAL OBJECTS," respectively, would strengthen international relations;

RECOMMENDS :

1. That the State assume the appropriate role in reinforcing the cultural identity of our peoples, by adopting the following measures :

  • Ratifying, or adhering to the above mentioned international Conventions;
  • Updating, or implementing effectively relevant legislation;
  • Creating, or strengthening cultural organisms, by giving them sufficient prestige and economic resources to carry out their mission in an effective manner;
  • Designing policies and planning actions, ensuring their continuity and effectiveness, or reinforcing those which already exist;
  • Incorporating the civil society into the processes of increasing awareness of strengthening of identity and preservation of cultural property, designing strategies directed towards eliciting participation of the media, police and customs control organisms, and educational institutions, in their formal and informal expression;
  • Initiating, or continuing with the inventory and registration of cultural property, analogizing systems, utilizing existing networks such as FORUM OF MINISTERS OF CULTURE OF LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN and the SICLAC project - and simplifying formats which permit rapid identification and interchange of information, a process which must have the active participation of the civil society;
  • Promoting the establishment of tripartite commissions, made up of representatives of Culture, Police and Customs, for the furtherance of due coordination of protective actions, control, and recovery of cultural property;
  • Including, as a matter of relevance, in regional and subregional agreements, control of illicit traffic of cultural property;
  • Promoting specific bilateral agreements among States, dealing with the protection of cultural heritage:
  • Promoting, through diplomatic channels, a more active attitude concerning recovery of expatriated cultural heritage, as well as concrete actions in the area of illicit traffic control.
2. Furthermore, recommends generally that international Organizations continue and redouble their actions in respect to protection of cultural heritage and specifically as follows :

RECOMMENDATIONS TO UNESCO :

  • Promoting among its Member States the ratifications of the above-mentioned Conventions;
  • Collaborating with the Latin American Member States in furtherance of :
  • training of specialized personnel in preservation of heritage; creation and expansion of inventories, national registries and information networks; design of cultural policies and legislation related to relevant issues; planning of continuing-educatio n seminars and workshops for organisms connected to preservation and control of cultural heritage, such as Customs, the Police, and Cultural Institutions.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO ICOM :

  • Striving to successfully integrate the civilian population into the preservation and conservation of heritage;
  • Forwarding the training of museum, customs, and police personnel;
  • Motivating the execution of measures of preservation of patrimony at the community level, and of security in museums and other institutions;
  • Making every effort to increase awareness of the importance of conservation of cultural heritage, and distributing information relevant to this theme;
  • Furthering the diffusion of ICOM's Code of Ethics, not only among museum workers but among the population in general;
  • Encouraging personnel of museums and related institutions, and collectors who are holders in due course of cultural property, to report the theft of any item immediately after its occurence;
  • Urging museums and related institutions to make an exhaustive inventory of their cultural property.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO INTERPOL AND THE WORLD CUSTOMS ORGANIZATION :

  • Generating agencies of liaison with cultural bodies, in order to coordinate efforts towards conservation of cultural heritage;
  • Participating actively in national tripartite commissions;
  • Disseminating awareness among personnel as to what constitutes Cultural Heritage;
  • Collaborating in the generation of Information Networks, related to the different aspets of illicit traffic of cultural property.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE FORUM OF MINISTERS OF CULTURE :

Being mindful of the recommendations contained in this Decleration, and adopting measures pertinent to their prompt execution, and including the agenda of the next meeting of the Forum the problem of illicit traffic of cultural property ad measures to be taken for its control.

FURTHERMORE, the participants in the workshop support the Decade of Indigenous Peoples, and welcome their active participation in the deliberations of this congress, with the suggestion that they make this Document known to the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, and to Indigenous Initiative for Peace, headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberts Menchu.

FINALLY, the participants in the Regional Workshop express their profound gratitude to the Government of Ecuador, to the Sub-Secretary of Culture, to the National Council of Culture, and to the Illustrious Municipality of Cuenca, for its generous and cordial reception of us during the days of the Congress, and to UNESCO, to ICOM, and to the President of the Organizing Committee, for their enthusiastic promotion of such an important event.

Solemnized in the City of Cuenca, Republic of Ecuador, on the 13th day of September, 1995.

 
 
   
Updated: 11 July 2005