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ASEAN Releases Ministerial Statement on Cultural Property Protection

November 28, 2022

Ministers Responsible for Culture and Art Build Further on ASEAN’s Commitment to Combat the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property

On November 28, the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts released a Ministerial Statement on Cultural Property Protection, following their meeting which took place on October 27, 2022. 

The strong statement recognized that the illicit trade is a serious transnational crime threatening Southeast Asia’s rich heritage and harming local communities. It also noted that safeguarding cultural heritage and building a responsible market are goals pursuant to ASEAN’s broader goals of maintaining and enhancing peace, security, and stability, and committed to collaboration through twelve specific initiatives, including: 

ADVANCE a long-term, regional strategy that addresses the root causes of the illicit trade in cultural property; 

ENCOURAGE all Member States to consider expanding the possibility to ratify or implement the relevant regional and international agreements related to the protection of cultural property against looting, illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership, while exploring how to best fill the gaps in this legal and regulatory framework in accordance with their respective national laws and regulations; 

EXPLORE the possibility of forming an ASEAN working group/cross-sectoral initiative to coordinate a regional response, with the goal of developing a sustainable, multi-year action plan that tackles the illicit trade from all angles; 

This statement builds on a roadmap released following an international conference held in September, “The Prevention of the Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Properties: An ASEAN Perspective.” The conference, organized by the Royal Government of Cambodia in collaboration with the Antiquities Coalition convened ASEAN Member States, key partner countries, law enforcement, museums, and private sector representatives in Siem Reap, gateway to the temples of Angkor. This four-day program included an international plenum open to the public and press, closed-door meetings of ASEAN Member States to strengthen collaboration at the working level, and expert panels and site visits to share lessons.

Read the full statement here

Learn more about the conference and roadmap here.