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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

Pisac ACM
13. 01. 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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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  


    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
---------------------
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...
---------------------------------------

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".


- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...


    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
-----------------------
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.

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