The easing of travel restrictions has finally made it possible to participate in person in training courses, seminars and other CPP events again. This welcome move meant that Professor Peter Stone, President of Blue Shield International and UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection and Peace at Newcastle University, was part of the training team on a course on Cultural Property Protection between 30 August and 3 September 2021 for the Organisation for Peace and Security Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) with the Multinational Peace Support Operations Training Centre (MPSOTC) in Greece. Over 30 participants from ten countries attended the course in Kilkis, Greece.
Participants explored the issue of cultural property protection and the phenomenon of the illicit trafficking in cultural property. Session topics included contemporary security environment; the legal framework of cultural property protection; links between transnational organized crime and terrorism, money laundering and terrorism financing; artefacts’ smuggling and international co-operation.
On the first day Professor Stone gave presentations on CPP and the work of the Blue Shield, and then on the responsibilities of Armed Forces and Armed Non-State Actors across the spectrum of armed conflict. He also participated in an operational environment field training exercise on the fourth day, presenting a session dedicated to threats, vulnerabilities and risk assessment for CPP.
It was wonderful being back in a face-to-face training environment with key colleagues and very engaged participants who have the ability to become actively involved in the protection of cultural property. As ever, the conversations over coffee and in the evening were just as valuable as the formal training and many relationships have been cemented and others begun. A breath of fresh air.
– Professor Peter Stone
In addition to Blue Shield International, the course included presentations from the OSCE, MPSOTC, Interpol, the Carabineri, UNESCO, the UK Cultural Property Protection Unit, University of Krems, and Greek academics. Participants came from ten countries and organisations including NATO and a number of national armed forces, police, and Border forces from European, Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Gulf countries.
The course is part of an OSCE project established in 2016 raising awareness of how illicit trafficking can impact peace and security. The topic is an integral part of the OSCE thematic work Programme from 2021-2026, and is part of MPSOTC’s annual training programme. This course builds on the first pilot training run in 2020, which BSI also supported.