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Inicio 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

Escrito por ACM
13.01.17

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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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It's important to create a synergy between "mutually stimulating" EU Countries' moves in order to overcome an "Unjust" Crisis "imported from USA", stressed new French Minister for Economic Revival, Patrick Devedjian, in Strasbourg, warning also that, while hoping for a vigorous Obama US Plan, nevertheless, "Time" is of essence for Europe...

In fact, it's EU's own interest to act Fast, before June 2009 EU Election, since, with Lisbon Treaty not ratified yet, it cannot face again the risk of a Majority Abstention, as back in 1999 and 2004, nor another "anti-EU" mood among Citizens, as in the 2005 French and Dutch "No", followed by the 2008 Irish "No", without endangering rare Historic opportunities, currently open for the EU, whose future is at stake.

From Social issues up to High-Tech Scientific Research, concrete action for Economic revival started from Strasbourg and its European dimension, for the new super-Minister Patrick Devedjian, who visited a Popular Social Housing and Infrastructure project at nearby Hagenau village, before meeting new leaders of Strasbourg's unified mega-University in a Scientific Labo at the Campus, close to EU Parliament and CoE headquarters.

Devedjian, who met also with all the spectrum of Local Political  deciders of Alsace region, close to FrancoGerman borders, wants for deeds to meet the words, in real practice, whenever politicians speak about Strasbourg and Europe's development.

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Devedjan to "EuroFora" : "European coordination can act as a multiplicator by mutual stimulations"
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Devedjian was questioned by "Euro-Fora" on his expectations for reciprocal effects of coordinated European plans :

- "We are living in a (European and Global) system where borders are transparent : When we take measures in France, they produce effects also in Germany, in Belgium, Italy, Spain, or other EU countries, and vice-versa. "So, we can have mutually stimulating effects between national revival Plans, if they are somehow coordinated", ..."They can augment each other's effects, acting as multiplicators and levers". "As a State stimulates Local authorities and Private business, similarly, each EU country's economic revival plan may multiply the effects of other EU countries' actions", he told us.

- "F.ex., when I visited Strasbourg University's Scientific labos, they told me that part of the renovation, funded by France, is realized by German companies located only a few Kms away from the border. Thus, the French revival plan benefits also the German economy. And vice-versa : when Germany takes certain measures, they can have beneficial effects also for French companies"

In an era of Globalisation, "nobody can close and isolate himself inside a Fish-Bowl !", he concluded.
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Economy's revival starts from Strasbourg and Europe, for new French Minister Devedjian
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This could be one of the reasons for which the new French Minister for Economic Stimulus chose to make his 1st visit to Strasbourg, the headquarters of European and Paneuropean Institutions, in the Franco-German river borders at the heart of Europe.

- "It was President Sarkozy's idea", he revealed, adding also fresh "support to Strasbourg's European vocation, not only with words, but also with deeds" :F.ex., the completion of a High-Speed Train network, due to stimulate fast links with Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary and other central EU Countries.

- "This Crisis is Unjust for Europe, because it wasn't its fault". The greatest part of the "Crisis was imported from the USA, where problems are deeper than here'', in the EU. The Crisis "wasn't due to a bad managment by Europe", who was affected by problems which emerged elsewhere. That's why Europe must be united and active enough to face this challenge. said Devedjian, who has just won +5% in popularity...

- "I hope that there will be an "Obama-effect" also on Economy, and that the Plan of the New American President will be substantial enough to face this crisis, which is worse in the USA than in our area", Europe, he added.

"Economic Revival overcomes political divisions : F.ex. Strasbourg's Socialist Mayor "Ries agreed that State actions funded by Public Debt are justified during such exceptional circumstances", noted the Center-Right republican Minister.

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"Zeitnot" for 2009 EU Elections ?

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"My problem is Time", stressed Devedjian from the outset, at Strasbourg's University. "I have to engage 75% of funds in 2009, out of a total of 29 Billion euros", he explained later. "Monitoring will be of essence", because we must "avoid bureaucracy or delays. No project should get lost or neglected in complex meanders of adminstrative offices' moving sands", he warned.

- "I must create activities in the middle of the Crisis", he added. Questioned by EuroFora whether he aims to start creating some "hopes before the June 2009 EU Elections", Devedjian, a former leader of the Governing Political Party in France: UMP, did not immediately reply, but revealed, later, that he "hoped to start at least some Projects on May 2009, even if the bulk of Revival Plan's effects are "expected from Autumn 2009".

However, with only 30% of EU Citizens currently aiming to cast a vote at the forthcoming EU Elections on June, (See other NewStory), the  coordinated moves' results are expected to be crucial for Citizens' participation and votes at the forthcoming June 2009 EU Elections throughout all 27 EU Member Countries...Thus, it's vital for all Europe's own Future that coordinated national Economic revival plans start to have concrete results and create hopes for new dynamics before the June 2009 EU Election...

A real challenge, since careful choices are needed : Our aim is to fund projects which "create activities", even "in the middle of the crisis", and have a "lever effect, attracting other investments", Devedjian said. Because the "Stimulus' Plan has 2 aims : A Tactical one : to create New Activities. And a Strategic one : Choose what can become efficient and useful also in the Long-term". 

- "Are you ready ?", he asked Strasbourg University's new President, professor Alain Beretz, with some 700 million euros in his pockets for Education-Research in France. - "We are !", he replied.

- "The Minister's initiative can accelerate funds, and Time is important for us. This concerns the entire renovation of all our buildings", said to "EuroFora" President, Beretz. "I showed some Scientific Research Labos to Mr. Devedjian. But, If we had more time, I could show him also some Education Amphis, whose condition needs to meet Strasbourg's new Mega-University's ambition" to reach the 10 best in the World, as Prime Minister Fillon earlier anounced here.

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(Devedjian kicks off his Economic Revival tour from Strasbourg University, meeting with its new chairman Beretz, at Scientific Institute Le Bel) 

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Regional Prefectures should gather and select projects to be presented for decision before the end of January 2009.

A well-known close friend of President Sarkozy, who succeeded as EU Chairman to launch, in agreement with German chancelor Merkel and even British prime minister Brown, vigorous EU actions against the Financial/Economic Crisis, (starting from the 1st Historic Summit of EuroZone's Heads of State/Government, October 12 at Elysee Palace, followed by Washington G20 Global Summit), Devedjan will have a key role in the realisation of National and EU plans recently agreed in Brussels.

President Sarkozy is expected to arrive himself in Strasbourg, on the occasion of the official inauguration of its brand New Mega-Hospital, on the 9th of January 2009, at the eve of EU Parliament's session here, Elysee confirmed shortly after Devedjian's visit.

EU is due to review its economic revival plans at March 2009 EU Council in Prague, before the April 2 London Global Summit.

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Multi-facet concrete activities at focus : Stimulus Minister Devedjian at the Political, Social and High-Tech fronts in Strasbourg...

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