From 7th to 11th November, the Transnational Threats Department of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and partners ran the inaugural Scenario-based Workshop on the Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property in Helsinki. The training audience participants included personnel from Finland, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The workshop was designed to familiarise regional customs, border, law enforcement, and heritage professionals with perspectives from a wide variety of disciplines involved in combatting heritage crime.
The programme consisted of lectures and interactive scenario-based sessions with contributions from the Italian Carabinieri Heritage Unit, the Spanish National Police Heritage and Financial Crime Units, US Homeland Security Investigations, INTERPOL, UN Office of Countering Terrorism, European Commission, Cranfield University’s Heritage Crime team, amongst many others. Dr Michael Delacruz of the BSI Secretariat and Fionnuala Rodgers, Chair of the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield represented BSI. They highlighted the broader framework of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and other international illicit trafficking legislation, and its role in supporting the seizure and forfeiture of cultural property illegally expropriated from conflict areas, and the Convention’s integration with European and national law as a potential enforcement tool.
The workshop was collectively designed by the OSCE-led Heritage Crime Task Force, of which BSI is a member, during a planning workshop in Edinburgh last September. The next scenario-based workshop will occur in February in Sofia, Bulgaria, with audiences from South-eastern Europe, and will put specific emphasis on the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the illegal trafficking of cultural property.