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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
Παρασκευή, 13 Ιανουάριος 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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New Plan revealed during EU Parliament's session and while Strasbourg's Unified University was inaugurated, (biggest in France, aiming at EU links).

 
EuroDistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau's dynamics were boosted by a key Franco-German meeting during EU Parliament's session here, which anounced a swift towards ambitious European aims : To become a showcase for concrete achievements of European Cooperation that benefit Citizens' everyday life and Economy, while also developing a Culture able to serve and stimulate European Organizations' political activities.

With measures to be taken in 2009, Strasbourg-Ortenau's EuroDistrict should become EU's new "Metropolitan area" in the Decade 2010-2020, at the heart of Europe in the performant "OberRhein" region, a Franco-German Expert's Report anounced.

- "Defend European Institutions, and in particular EU Parliament" is a key point of the 2009 Report's threefold focus on "Infrastructures"' economy and quality, "Citizens' everyday life", and "Cultural and Political influence".

According to a Draft Statute, France and Germany agree that "an undeniable element of EuroDistrict's image" should be "Strasbourg's status, as Capital of a Democratic and Parliamentarian Europe".

    After parallel and joint meetings at EU Parliament, French and German Ministers for EU affairs, Bruno LE MAIRE and Gunter GLOSER, started working with representatives of Local and Regional Authorities from both sides at Strasbourg's Historic Town Hall, Place Broglie, for the 2009 Monitoring of EuroDistrict "Strasbourg-Ortenau, during which was published an important Experts' Strategic Study with proposals on how to develop it in the Decade 2010-2020.
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    Introducing the 1st Experts' Report on "EuroDistrict" at a moment when it needs "New Ideas" as food for thought, Strasbourg's Mayor, Senator Roland RIES said that "a special Status" should allow "Citizens to share Infrastructures and a common European project", in agreement with his collegue, Mayor of Kehl and German spokesperson for EuroDisctrict, Dr. Gunther PETRY, who focused mainly on the useful role of "Local" authorities in "concrete" achievements.

    - Together with "facilitating Citizens' everyday life", "our countries have also a Political aim", which needs to find "New Forms of Cooperation", said German Minister for EU affairs, Gunter GLOSER. According to a "Subsidiarity principle", which starts from a smaller level, leaving to a bigger entity what it cannot achieve alone, EuroDistict should be the "1st level" in a "Concentric" schema, he added.

    - In fact, "it's a question of Europe's credibility : EuroDistrict must prove that Franco-German cooperation gives results", with "concrete achievements", said the new French Minister for EU affairs, Bruno LE MAIRE. Now, we "must advance further" : There is both "Local and National support" to make of Strasbourg-Ortenau's EuroDistrict "an example on what Europe must do in the Future if it wants to be credible in Citizens' eyes".

    - "Our Mission was to find the region's Potential of the region, "and search adequate Measures to use and develop it"; said German Expert Dr. Erwin VETTER. A main proposal is to "create a New Center for EU Competences", where everything should be concentrated : EuroDistrict, EuroCorps, EuroBest, etc : All in one area, while also linking Airports and other means of Transport, Culture, Education, Science and Research, etc. in order "to create 1 Metropolitan area" before 2020, he anounced.

    - With imagination and organisation "we tried to marry the French and German spirit", added French Expert Bernard COTTIN. He underlined "two points" :  - "In their Everyday Life, Citizens should feel that they are living in One Common Area", (fex. on Phones, Hospitals, Retirement, etc). But EuroDistrict should have also a "Cultural Dimension" : "Strasbourg, had been a little-bit left behind by both countries in the past, but must now find a New dynamic Momentum, at the Heart of Europe, strengthening its Cultural atous and becoming Multi-Cultural, in order to attain a European Dimension and develop the European Institutions", he concluded.

    Symbolically, both Mayors of Strasbourg and Kehl, Ries and Petry, gave to Ministers Gloser and Le Maire as a Gift two Books on Rhine River : Stylicised by both Logos chosen for "EuroDistrict" (as body of a flower), and for Strasbourg's new, Unified University, "UniStra", (as a long "S"), Rhine river came at the focus this week in Strasbourg, headquarters also of the oldest European Organisation : The Committee on Rhine's Navigation.. Meanwhile, Le Maire switched over from German (that he speaks fluently) to French, echoed, the other way round, by Gloser, who also understands French...
---------------------------------
The 2009 REPORT :
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Experts' proposals for EuroDistrict's Legal status is to start in 2009 with a "European Group for Transborder Cooperation", and "replace it, when possible, .. with an Original Form" of a new legal entity.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Citizens' oriented measures include to facilitate "acces to Health", "Mobile Phones", "Transborder Workers"', "School exchanges", etc., and other measures interesting Citizens, as f.ex. the creation of "Common Hospitals or Rescue centers", etc. Already, an agreement on "Urgent Medical Care" will be signed on February 10.

As "Economic Capital" of one of EU's most performant areas, known as "Ober-Rhein Metropolitan Region" ("superior Rhine" area), Strasbourg-Ortenau's EuroDistrict "should also develop its role of European Cultural and Political Capital, Symbol of Franco-German entente and of a Democratic Europe", Experts' Report concludes.

This goes well beyond developping Bi-linguism, transbrorder Training and "systematic" rapprochment of both Cultures (in Cinema, Theater, Music, etc).

It adds a progressive transfert in EuroDistrict of "elements of the Franco-German Brigade", close to "EuroCorps" Headquarters, and culminates with the promotion of European institutions (see above).

The Report also proposes to launch an "initiative" for "EU Parliament's unique Headquarters", developing Strasbourg's attractiveness vis-a-vis MEPs and staff.

It also includes the development of "a Research and Higher Education pole", among French, German and Swiss partners, "linked with Strabourg's new; Unified University" and "Ortenau's HochSchulen"

It's not a coincidence that this same week was inaugurated Strasbourg's Unified University : - "UniStra" becomes the Biggest in France, (with more than 42.000 students, 5.200 staff, a brand new "European Doctoral College", some 100 Research centers, and a Capital of more than 400 million €  from the State), aiming to create closer links with nearby German and Swiss Universities, fex. Karlsruhe, Fribourg, Stutgard, Bale, etc, as French Minister for Scientific Research and Higher Education, Valerie PECRESSE advised.

(See other, related News, already sent to interested "EuroFora"s subscribers and donors, which will be also posted at the Website asap).

Last but not least :  Non-believers should meditate on the fact that all this was symbolically made in the same Strasbourg Historic Town Hall's room where even the establishement of Council of Europe was decided, 60 years back in 1949...

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