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Cultural Heritage: Italy again on the frontline, a round table with UNESCO and CTED

NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 7 – From the creation of the first police unit specialized in countering the illicit trafficking of cultural property, to the drafting of the first resolution against the destruction of humanity’s historical heritage threatened by war and terrorism: since the 1960s in the forefront of the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property, Italy returned to the stage today at the UN co-organizing a roundtable in conjunction with UNESCO and the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee.

“Commitment to heritage protection and the fight against the illicit trade in cultural property is a priority that extends beyond national borders,” said the Italian Mission’s Military Adviser, General Fabrizio Parrulli, recalling Security Council Resolution 2347 co-sponsored by Italy and France and adopted in 2017: it was the first in UN history dedicated exclusively to countering the destruction of and trade of cultural heritage in situations of armed conflict and terrorism.

Parrulli, who led the unit before moving to New York, recalled that in 1969 Italy became the first country in the world to have a specialized task force for the protection of historical and artistic heritage within the Carabinieri. The TPC (Tutela Patrimonio Culturale) unit today operates in close collaboration with UNESCO, INTERPOL and other UN agencies such as UNICRI and with national police forces.

The Carabinieri of TPC have provided technical support in the context of peacekeeping operations, for example in Iraq since 2003, and in training police and customs forces around the world. Building on this experience, in 2016 Italy with UNESCO created the ‘Blue Helmets for Culture’, a national task force in the framework of the global initiative “Unite4Heritage”: it includes Carabinieri officers and experts from the Ministry of Culture ready to intervene at the request of Member States affected by natural disasters or to protect and assess damage to heritage by preventing looting and trafficking even by terrorist groups.

More recently, Italy co-founded in 2018 with Cyprus the Group of Friends for the Protection of Cultural Heritage: a platform, Parrulli hoped, to create awareness on the issue by building on discussions like this one. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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