UNODC is the Office of United Nations actively supporting comprehensive policies against illicit trafficking of cultural goods, including protective and preventive actions and, when necessary, administrative, civil and criminal measures.
Considering the increasing number of criminal organisations and networks involved on illicit trafficking of cultural goods, UNODC is actively promoting the implementation and application at national level of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime of 2000. Moreover, the adquisition of antiquities and objects of art is frequently associated to money laundering as defined in Art. 6 of this Convention. The goods are often transported to third countries with lower controls where the obtention of export licences making illicit object appear legitimate are easier to obtain. Illegal trafficking is also frequently intermiggled with properties of licit origin, or the organisation of simulated or ficticious auctions and sales.
UNODC has set up a knowledge management portal (called “Sherloc”, Sharing Electronic Resources and Laws against Organised Crime) aimed at facilitating the dissemination of information regarding the implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its three Protocols. The Portal also provides information on national case law, including leading cases where the Convention has been applied and interpreted by national courts.
As result of a close cooperation with UNESCO, an open-ended intergovernmental expert group meeting on the protection against trafficking in cultural property has been convened in 2009, 2012 and 2014. The goal of this expert group meeting is to submit relevant recommendations to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on the protection against trafficking in cultural property, and in particular on ways of making more effective the model treaty for the prevention of crimes threatening movable property.
UNODC is also promoting regional structures to support cross-border cooperation, including networks of prosecutors, judicial authorities and central authorities as REFCO, WACAP, and other Central Asia, East Africa, and Gulf States networks of prosecutors. The setting up of such networks enhances regional and national responses against illicit trafficking, and provides useful platforms for the exchange of information (including legal information, operational information, strategic information, information on urgent cases). The netwoks also facilitate building trust between the authorities compelled to share information and cooperate closely in ongoing investigations and operations.
Another relevant UNODC´s initiative is the Container Control Programme, in the framework of which a number of Joint Port Control Units have been created. The Units involve custom authorities, law enforcement authorities, national security officials and other competent authorities at administrative and police level with the main task of identifying high risk containers and make appropriate measures to confiscate and protect the cultural goods illegally transported. With this initiative, UNODC has promoted a multi-agency approach and enhanced partnership with the Private Sector to facilitate legal trade of cultural goods.
The campaign “travel-dont-traffick” was launched by UNODC in order to promote the involvement of citizens and the society in general in the protection of cultural goods, by encouraging tourists to be responsible travellers.