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Haupt 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

Geschrieben von ACM
Freitag, 13 Januar 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).   

  syrian_historic_artefacts_threatened_coe_eurofora_400   syrian_artefacts_400


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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    Before the end of 2009, France and Germany will take strong initiatives to open "new Horizons" needed by Europe and the World, going well beyond the current Crisis' management, anounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angie Merkel, reassuring that both a judgement on Lisbon Treaty by nearby Karlsruhe German Federal Court, and the forthcoming National Elections in Germany would confirm their capacity to act.    

They were replying to Press questions in Berlin, after key-regional elections on Sunday, where Merkel's ChristianDemocratic party kept everywhere a strong 1st and won the possibility to forge a New Majority with Liberals at the largest of 3 Landers : Saxony (4 millions inhabitants), while its main competitor, the Socialdemocrat party fell to unprecedented lows : Tackled by the small "Linke" (left) party in Saarland (1 million inhabitants), it became even smaller than it in Saxony and Thuringen (3 million inhabitants), where SPD arrived only third. While its usual partners, the "Greens" also fell down, contrary to CDU's new partners, the FDP Liberals, who go up.

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    - "At any case, at the end of the year (2009), if things go as scheduled, we shall take strong initiatives, showing that Europe needs a Franco-German axis, as well as the World, even if it never excludes other" countries to join, replied Sarkozy to a question if France and Germany will revive the "European dream", by "relauncing the EU motor" for the Future, with actions going further than the mere management of the global crisis, (as it was done fex. in the Past with the creation of the "Euro" Monetary zone, etc).

    - "I am convinced that the Franco-German friendship must be constantly nourished by New Projects", he added."There are many areas of cooperation where we intend to take, very soon, some Franco-German initiatives, which will allow to open more Horizons" to the EU, Sarkozy stressed.

    But if "we don't speak about that now, it's only in order to avoid interfering in important elections coming in Germany", he observed. However, "we have already started to consider the Future with the (German) Chancellor, and what we can do in order to honour our predecessors". "We are already speaking about that, and we are preparing things". "I am working very well together with Mrs Merkel, and I wish that it goes on", Sarkozy concluded.

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    - "It's important for EU's credibility that France and Germany advance forward together", stressed Merkel from the outset. "Don't worry about Germany's capacity to undertake initiatives" with France, she added. "France and Germany will be perfectly able to make proposals" for the EU.

    -  "After-crisis" plans must be prepared, meanwhile, with measures "advancing progressively", Merkel anounced. And, for the short term, we must deal also with EU Citizens' dismay since they feel that it's a Scandal for some in the Financial Markets to be paid with excessive "Bonuses", etc, she agreed with Sarkozy.

    - "Abuses in financial markets must stop", stressed also Sarkozy. Backing Merkel's announcement that France and Germany call for an EU meeting to forge "a crystal-clear European position" in view of the G-14 Summit at Pittsburg, he warned that "everyone will have to undertake his responsibilities, in front of World's Public Opinion. particularly those who don't want to make the same effort of regulation as France and Germany".

    Moreover, "Global Trade cannot be correctly dealt, without taking into account also Environmental and Social rules", Sarkozy added, referring to recently expressed positions against Unfair Competition via Environmental and/or Social Dumping, (See earlier "EuroFora"'s publications).

    Such moves are obviously linked to the need to ensure at least an elementary respect for Human Rights by Third Countries, (f.ex. exploitation of Children's work, etc) in order to avoid, precisely, any such Social Dumping.

    - "EU has Values, protecting Human Rights and Human Dignity", and "it cannot close its eyes" in front of grave violations, particularly "Torture and/or killings", added, indeed, Sarkozy.

    Thus, "the time comes, where decisions must be taken". But, in case of "Sanctions", "all International opinion should be convinced of the need to take action", he observed.

    Expressed on the occasion of recent developments in Iran, the same principles should logically apply also to other similar cases, including fex. that of Hundreds of ECHR judgements' condemning f;ex. Turkey for grave crimes, (as Torture, brutal Killings, Enforced "Disappearances", Destruction of Family Homes, harassments and oppressive violations of Freedom of Speech, etc).

    Meanwhile, questioned on (EU Commission's chair)  Barroso's bid to succeed himself for a second mandate, they both expressed a "wish" or a "feeling" that "EU Parliament"'s various political Groups might fix a date for decisions "during September". However, is he is endorsed before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, it will be legally necessary to re-vote anew for a full term of office afterwards, according to EU Legal Experts, revealed recently in Strasbourg the experienced former President of EU Parliament's Constitutional Committee, German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen. And Germany will not vote for Lisbon Treaty's ratification but only "on September 8 and 18", revealed Merkel, ( i.e. after EU Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg).

    - Therefore, "for EU Commissioners' appointment, it's too early yet, because we must wait for the ratification of Lisbon Treaty" by all 27 EU Member countries, including naturally Ireland's Referendum on early October, said to "EuroFora" the influential President of EU Parliament's largest group of MEPs, Joseph Daul, expressing, however, the hope that a controversial deal with the head of the Socialist Group of MEPs, Martin Schultz of Germany, might hold for Barroso alone, at a forthcoming vote due to fix the Strasbourg plenary's Agenda.

    But MEPs reportedly just "postponed" for 1 week all their previously scheduled group meetings (See : http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/barroso-unveil-summer-homework-week/article-184825 );

    However, while the choice of a new EU Commission's President by EU Parliament is supposed, according to many MEPs' wish, take place according to EU policy issues, paradoxically, this would mean that Barroso's bid would pass before even the anouncement of France and Germany's "initiatives" for EU's "new Horizons"...

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