On 14-15 June 2021, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organised an online Intersessional Workshop on Cultural Rights and the Protection of Cultural Heritage.
The UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, representatives of OHCHR, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, country delegations, civil society, academia and experts from all regions of the world discussed mainstreaming a human rights-based approach to cultural heritage, cultural heritage in crisis and supporting the work of cultural rights defenders working on cultural heritage protection.
The Council of Europe Criminal Law Co-operation Unit (DGI) and Culture and Cultural Heritage Division (DGII) gave a joint presentation promoting the Council of Europe Convention on “Offences Relating to Cultural Property” (the Nicosia Convention) which is the only international treaty aiming to prevent and combat cultural property crimes by providing for the criminalisation of certain acts, strengthen the criminal justice response and promote national and international cooperation in this context.
It was also highlighted that the Council of Europe’s ongoing project “Fight against Offences relating to Cultural Property” provides technical assistance to the State Parties in this regard and promotes the Nicosia Convention.
Finally, and most importantly, particular emphasis was placed on the universal character of the Nicosia Convention, allowing any country in the world to join it. Therefore, the States were encouraged to ratify this important Convention in order for it to enter into force.
Based on the Workshop’s results, a report will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council for examination at its 47th Session (21 June-15 July 2021).
The Council of Europe will continue its concerted action to promote the Nicosia Convention, which provides a unique mechanism to protect the common cultural heritage of humanity.