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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE-UNESCO-ICC Officials to EF: Cultural Heritage Property new Treaty to Fil Gap + Fight ISIL Terror

CoE-UNESCO-ICC Officials to EF: Cultural Heritage Property new Treaty to Fil Gap + Fight ISIL Terror

Written by ACM
Friday, 13 January 2017

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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- A New PanEuropean/International Legal Tool for the Protection of Cultural Heritage is due to Fill serious Gaps on Safeguarding People's Historic Identity and World's Treasures, but also to Help Fight against ISIS a.o. Terrorists, stressed several Top CoE, UNESCO, ICC and other Top Officials, speaking to "Eurofora", on the occasion of an International Conference organized in Strasbourg by Cyprus' Presidency of the CoE, in one of its most Popular Priorities among the Diplomatic Community, where Concrete Moves are Expected before it concludes at the End of May 2017.


- A main Gap, until Today, is that the re-Sellers and/or Final Buyers of a Stolen Good currently often Escape from any Criminal Responsibility, even if Public Authorities Find Proof of an illegal Traffick Network usurpating and selling valuable Cultural Heritage Objects, by merely Claiming that they Ignored that Fact.

 

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- But the New CoE's Convention intends to Criminalize also the Behavior of any re-Seller or Final Buyer (particularly Professional)who does Not show, at least, a "Due Diligence" in Examining the situation, (but behaves at least with "Gross Negligence"), before Accepting to Buy a Cultural Heritage Good which Might have been Stolen and/or Usurpated, pointed out, in substance,  the President-in-office of CoE's Committee of Ministers, Experienced Long-Time Foreign Minister of Cyprus, and former Top MEP in charge of Foreign Policy and Human Rights' matters in rthe Biggest EU Parliament's Group, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Ioanis Kasulides, speaking to "Eurofora". Kasulides has already Discussed the Need of a Better Protection of Cultural Property, recently in New York and elsewhere, also inside the UNO.


+ What is really at Stake is even More Important, Today, because Recent Developments have revealed that Islamist Terrorist Organizations, such as ISIL's atrocious BeHeaders even of Innocent Civilian People, etc., are Often Gaining a lot of Money by Large-scale Desecration, Destruction and Looting of World Heritage and other Valuable Cultural Monuments, Sites and Objects, located in the Territories that they Invade and Occupy or Attack, as Minister Kasulides earlier observed, resulting in a New Kind of "Blood Money", as CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, an Experienced former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Norway, denounced Today, right from the Beginning of this PanEuropean Conference (i.e. Russia a.o. included), Open to the Participation also of any other Global Partner or Country in the World.

 

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F.ex., not only in Iraq's Mesopotamian area, (a notorious No 1 Pre-Historic Hotspot, among the Oldest in the World, to which succeeded some Grand Civilisations from Ancient Times), but also in Syria, etc., in Addition to the World Famous, UNESCO-Award, "Palmyra" Ancient City, Attacked Twice by ISIL's Destructive and Deadly Terrorists, it's also Many Thousands of various Other, Precious Cultural Heritage Goods, which were Looted and Sold, through Criminal Traffic Networks, by such Barbaric Islamist Terrorists, including a lot of those initialy located near the Northern Borders of Syria towards the Sourth of Turkey, from where they Transited before being able to Reach customers in Europe, Japan and/or the USA, etc., Strongly Denounced the embattled Director-General of Antiquities and Museums of Syria, Professor Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim.

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 Trying to Limit such Brutal Destructions and Looting, the competent Syrian Authorities have often Collected and Transported Many valuable Historic Goods back to Damas, Dr. Abdulkarim said, but this is obviously Not Enough at all in order to Protect all the Historic Treasures existing in a Country which was a Crossroads of Phoenician, Persian, Greek, Roman, Buyzantine, and other various Civilisations, in an area where Both PolyTheistic and MonoTheistic Religions, such as Judaism, Christianism and Islam, etc, criss-crossed eachother, belonging to the History of Mankind. Moreover, the Refusal of several Foreign States to allow a Direct Cooperation between all competent and interested Actors with the current Syrian Government, has Complicated thinks, so that Most of those who can't do otherwise, at least for the Time being, are Often using to Help mainly by the Intermediary of UNESCO, (including not only Other State, and various Public or Private Actors, but even EU Commission itself, when it Funds some relevant Projects indirectly, as an EU Official observed, etc).   

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But this obviously is Not Enough in order to seriously Protect the Most Valuable Cultural Heritage Sites, Monuments, Artifacts, Paintings, various Objects and other Goods, there and elsewhere in the World, from Looting, Abandoning, Damaging, Disfiguring, partialy or Totaly Destroying, by Criminal Thugs, Political Hostility, Cultural Genocide policies, and/or Extremist Islamist Terrorism, etc., as have shown also the Notorious Recent Examples of the Demolition of Giant "Budha" Statutes by Talibans in Afghanistan, the various Destructions imposed at Palmyra by ISIL's Terrorists, the quasi-Systematic Looting, Desecration, and/or Destruction of Ancient Greek/Byzantine and Particularly Christian Churches, Monuments and Religious Objects in the Occupied Territories of Cyprus controlled by  Ankara's Foreign Invasion and Occupation Army, including even the Incredible Incident of Many Precious Historic, mainly Byzantine Artifacts brutaly Thrown Down, Lost or Looted, and/or Broken by Armed islamist Terrorist Gangs in Northern Syria, near Turkey's Borders, reportedly, even when they Wanted to ...Steal the big Boxes in which they had been classified, as Dr. Abdulkarim Denounced.

 

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That's why CoE's New Convention aims to provide Efficient and Sufficient Legal Tools in order to Help Face all such "Threats to Cultural Property", including, mainly, the currently Growing Need to "Fight illicit Destruction, Excavation and Trafficking", as Official Documents note. "Offences ... are Growing" recently against "Cultural Property Belonging to Peoples", which "Constitutes a unique and important Testimony of the(ir) Culture and Identity", often "leading to the Destruction of the World's Cultural Heritage", and "involving" also "Organised Criminal Groups", even "Terrorist Organisations", in "Deliberate Destruction", "Trafficking" and "illicit Trade", the Draft Conention's Preambule notes.

 

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Significantly, UNESCO's Director-General, Irina Bokova, confirmed to "Eurofora" that she founds "very Important Today" the Issues at stake, just after Strongly Denouncing the Fact that the "War Crime" of "Destruction of Heritage", has Now "Become a Tactic of War and Propaganda, to Weaken Resolve, to Incite Hatred and Revenge", while also "Exploited to Finance Illicit Activities, through "Looting and Trafficking", which "is Criminal Offense".

 

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Among various such Examples, UNESCO has pointed also at that of Nimrud Archeological Site, in Iraq's Nineveh valley, which faced "Deliberate Destructin by ISIL"s Terrorists. Therefore, particularly nowadays, - "The Fight against Impunity is clearly one of the Issues that we Must Address", but "where our Legal Arsenal is the Weakest", until now, Bokova pointed out in her Keynote speech at CoE's Conference in Strasbourg this Morning.

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  But the competent, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, a former Minister of Justice from Gambia and UN Expert on International Law, Replying to an "Eurofora" Question, which Reminded also the Timely Call launched recently in Strasbourg, Both at the CoE and in EU Parliament, by the 2 Yazidi Girls, Kidnapped, EnSlaved, Raped and Abused by ISIL's Islamist Terrorists, to, at last, "End the ImPunity" of such AbHorrent Criminals, (a Call that even UNO's former Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has Strongly Supported at a landmark Speech in EU Parliament in Brussels : See, f.ex. : ...), Regretted the Fact that ICC has Not yet a Direct Legal Competence on the Territories of Syria and Iraq, as long as these Countries are Not yet Court's Members. On the Contrary, at least in one area in Africa, we have already one Example of a former Gang Leader who was Arrested, Judged and Condemned for Destruction of Cultural Heritage, she observed earlier.  

 

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- However, We (ICC) can Intervene when "Foreign Fighters" f.ex. from European and/or Other Countries which have Signed and Ratifies the International Criminal Court's statute, are Crossing over here, after having actively Participated in ISIL's and/or Other Armed Gangs' Terrorist Crimes, she observed. In Addition, ICC might Also Take Action against Destruction and Looting of Cultural Heritage, when the Culprits are part of Trans-National Networks, f.ex. of Smugglers, which Extend also into Member Countries, she added. As far as Time-Limits are concerned, for the ICC to be Legaly Competent, the inscriminated Acts must have taken place After 2002, Bensouda reminded, But agreed with "Eurofora" that in Cases where, Even if the Initial, Main Crime might have Started in a more remote Past, neverheless, ICC could  be legaly seized when f.ex. there is a kind of "Continuing" Violations still taking place more Recently, perhaps even Nowadays and/or in the Future, by various Subsequent Acts which Exploit, Perpetuate, Extend, and/or Aggravate Further Nowadays a Crime of Destruction of Cultural Heritage, which has Started earlier.

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- CoE's Director-General on Legal affairs and Human Rights, Patrick Boillat, speaking to "Eurofora", pointed out that, while the New CoE's Convention is due to have an International Dimension by being Open also for Accession by All Countries in the World, even Out of Europe, i.e. located in any other Continent on Earth, nevertheless, an eventual Problem, at least for the Time being, for certain Countries as Syria, might be the Fact that, (as also for Many Other Conventions), CoE's Committee of Ministers must always Decide Unanimously to Accept to Invite a precise Country to become a New Treaty Member, or not, (so that even 1 CoE Member State's eventual Refusal risks to Block that possibility in a certain case).

However, generaly speaking, this New Draft Convention on "Offences relating to Cultrural Property", responds to Real Needs, particularly Today, of the PanEuropean and International Community, in order to "Complete" some pre-existing UNESCO and UNIDROIT Texts in certain Key Areas which still remain Unsettled, and should be Finalized, Adopted, and Start to be Implemented the Soonest possible, CoE's Legal/HR Director Boillat concluded, in his statements to "Eurofora".

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As for the Chairman of CoE's Committee which currently Drafts that New Convention, Hans-Holger Herrnfeld from Germany, speaking in fine to "Eurofora", he confirmed that, after This Week's Meeting of 9-12 January 2017, the Committee's Next Meeting "on February" is expected to make a serious Advance towards Protecting Cultural Property in a way which may also Help Curb some Criminal and/or Terrorist Networks, so that we could all Hope for the entire Legal Text to be Ready for a possible Opening to the Signature and Ratification by CoE's 47 Member Countries, as well as, eventually, Other, Third Countries from Other Continents in the World, at the forthcoming Plenary Session of the PanEuropean Organisation's Committee of Ministers, of End of May 2017, at Nicosia, Cyprus.

 

(../..)

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(NDLR : DraftNews, as already send to "Eurofora"s Donors and Subscribers, earlier. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap).

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    Scientific innovation joined to Faith for Human Rights, Eastern Partnership and fight against the Crisis, but above all, the need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" from EU Citizens, are the main priorities for new EU Parliament's President, Polish Jerzy Buzek, that a 555-votes-strong majority of MEPs on July 14,  Strasbourg made a living symbol of the fact that, 20 years after the fall of Berlin Wall (1989 - 2009) there is no more an Eastern or Western Europe, but only one Europe, as the head of the largest group of MEPs, ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Joseph Daul, stressed after the event.

    Speaking later to a group of Strasbourg's Journalists, including "EuroFora", the new EU Parliament's President clarified his stance on concrete topical issues, as f.ex. that of Turkey's controversial EU bid, which was one of the main issues of the June 2009 Electoral campain, clearly won by his party of ChristianDemocrats/EPP :  - "At present, Turkey does not fullfil none of EU conditions", he stressed, (See infra).

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    Buzek is well known in Strasbourg and to "EuroFora" as EU Rapporteur for the Framework Program of Scientific Research and Development of Technologies. A Natural Science Professor from the Historic and Religious landmark Polish City of Częstochowa, active in the famous Solidarnosk grass-roots social movement, he served 4 years as Prime Minister (1997-2001), before being elected as MEP in 2004 and 2009, after he brillantly won the latest EU Election at the head of his party (EPP) almost doubling the number of its MEPs from 15 to 28 !

    - "Innovation" and "Energy safety", as well as fight against the "Cimat change", but also "Eastern Partnership", the "Mediterranean", "Strategic partnerships" with Russia, the USA, etc, and the search for "solutions to the Economic Crisis" that EU Citizens "expect" from us, will be his "priorities", announced from the outset the new EU Parliament's President, reminding also that the quest for "Human and Civic Rights" played an important role in his experience with the Solidarnosc grass-roots social movement in Poland's History

    But, the most important of all, is the urgent need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" between EU Institutions and the People he stressed : - EU "Citizens often don't understand us", denounced Buzek, launcing a call to "do anything for EU Citizens to understand our work" in EU Parliament : "We (MEPs) need to make EU Citizens involved" in "what we are doing every week, in Strasbourg and Brussels", he proposed. Pointing f.ex. to the hot "Debates" with "strong arguments" exchanged between MEPs during the preparation of their Legislative Decisions, in Committees, delivering often hard struggles between initially opposed points of view, long before forging a majority at the final vote, sometimes more than a year..

    Therefore, EU Parliament will be "open to your criticism, for discussion and exchange of views", he promissed to Journalists in Strasbourg.

    In this way, Buzek, in fact, highlighted "EuroFora"s main idea, that we strongly advocate since 1997-2007, to systematicaly and actively involve EU Citizens in public debates during the decision-making process of important EU measures, which affect their lives and the society in which they live, (and not only just a few weeks each 4 or 5 Years at the eve of EU Elections)...
--------------------
    This is related also to the symbolic gift that Buzek chose to give to the out-going former EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert Poettering, (2007-2009), his collegue in the ChristianDemocrats/EPP, who brillantly won 2009 EU Elections in Germany : A genuine statute of sainte Barbara crafted in Silesia's black Coal by Polish Miners : Those simple but strong people who fought for social change against some technocrats and bureaucrats disguissed into so-called "real-socialists" of old times. (PHOTO).

    It's enough to have seen a popular open air mass, at Warsaw's center, with many thousands of people, old and young, simple workers and intellectuals mixed together, with references to Poland's history and struggles for survival and liberty, through various ages, (as fex. that organized at the eve of CoE's 2005 panEuropean Heads of State and Government for the beatification of late Pope John-Paul II), in order to understand what such symbols mean..

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    But, overcoming the "Crisis of Trust" with EU Citizens obviously implies also to rectify any errors done in the past, fex. on Turkey's controversial EU bid, with controversial decisions taken in 1999 and 2004 to give a "candidate" status and to start EU negotiations, provoking an unprecedented series of 3 "No" to EuroReferenda and 3 Majoriy Abstentions in EU Parliament Elections : 1999, 2005 and 2009, (even if the latest one succeeded to decelerate and almost stop the drop of participation rates, opening hopes for vote's revival after an electoral campaign clearly critical to Turkey's claims in several mainstream EU countries)
    
    Therefore, Buzek was faced with manifold critical Questions on EU Enlargement, most of them citting concrete examples of certain political problems  :  But his replies were almost always given as a matter of general principle :

    F.ex. Questioned on the suspension of EU - Croatia talks because of a Border conflict with EU Member Slovenia, Buzek prefered to speak about principles :

- "We know that during Enlargement, the process can be blocked by failure to resolve this kind of issues",  This concerns also other enlargments' cases", and "these rules are always in force" he warned.


But Buzek avoided to directly reply to a queston on "French and German EPP' calls to define the Borders of Europe", as a German journalist asked him by making a reference to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel's, critical statements on Turkey at the June 2009 Electoral campain.    

- "Concerning Enlargement, there's always the same rules : There have to be Criteria, which have to be respected if a Country wants to join the EU", he started to simply reply.

- "For my country (Poland) it took us 15 Years to fullfil these Criteria", Buzek reminded, indicating, if proportions are kept, that Turkey, fex. would have to spend some 25 years before eventually joining the EU..

- "Countries wishing to join the EU need to Change their Systems", as we (Poland and other former Eastern European Countries) did, he stressed.

- "'For me, meeting the condition of Human Rights is one of the Key conditions for membership in the EU", preferring again to speak from the point of view of General Principles, on the occasion of an untimely question on Serbia (which is not even a candidate yet)...

- "Turkey" has, "first of all", to fullfil (EU) Copenhagen criteria". Bevause, currently, none of them is fullfiled by Turkey", New EU Parliament's President, denounced, speaking later to a group of Journalists, including "EuroFora".

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In particular, on Human Rights :  - "We (EU) can never forget Human Rights", because "this is at the very Foundations of the EU", Buzek added.

On the contrary, when he referred to EU Enlargment for the  "Western Balkans Countries ", Buzek appeared upbeat, finding "promising situations", despite "difficulties" in the Past, since "Countries are queuing to become EU members", and this "generated changes", as he said.

As for Russia, Buzek observed that it was a "very important" country, located "in the same Continent", Europe,  "close to our borders", and "we need eachother". "But Russia' has 'differend poblems : "They claim that their system is Democratic, but rules are differend", and we must be "aware of such differencies", fex. "on Human Rights", that we can't ignore, as he said;

Concerning China, where a journalist observed that the recipient of EU Parliament's latest "Sakharov prize" for freedom of thought is "still in prison", Buzek found that since the 1999 events in Tien Amin square, "we see differencies on Human Rights still today", and expressed his "support" for those who try to ameliorate the situation.

On the contrary, speaking recently to "EuroFora" he strongly supported the idea for an EU - Ukraine cooperation, fex. between Airbus and Antonov, in order to build a  less costly but more performant than the old and problematic A400M, new Military Transport Airplane : - "They (Ukranian Antonov Company) can certainly do it. I'm sure they can. It's a good Idea, and I'd be glad if it was done", he told us. (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/airbusantonov.html )


(../..)

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