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G20 Leaders’ Declaration Includes Statement on Culture, In Line with AC Report Recommendation

November 5, 2021

World Leaders Address Culture as they Adopt the Rome Declaration at the 2021 G20 Summit

On October 30-31, world leaders met in Rome for the 2021 G20 Summit. At the conclusion of the summit, the G20 leaders adopted the Rome Declaration. The Declaration is a culmination of the work undertaken by the Italian G20 Presidency over the course of this year. 

Under Italy’s leadership, the G20 has prioritized making culture part of the post-COVID recovery, as well as incorporating it into the institution’s broader work to secure economic integrity and transparent markets. Protecting history and heritage from the illicit trade, as well as other major threats such as climate change, is an identified pillar of this broader mission. To that end, on 29-30 July in Rome, Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini brought together the G20 Member States for a cultural ministerial meeting, part of a series of high-level events on the illicit trade that led up to the G20 Summit. 

Culture remained in focus at the Summit, and was reflected in the Leaders’ Declaration: 

“56. Culture. Recalling that culture has intrinsic value, we underline the role of culture and of cultural and creative professionals and businesses as drivers for sustainable development and in fostering the resilience and the regeneration of our economies and societies, stressing the importance of international efforts to safeguard and promote culture, with a key role to be played by UNESCO, and the need to support workers, including in the cultural field, also by facilitating access to employment, social protection, digitalization and business support measures. We emphasize the importance of addressing threats to irreplaceable cultural resources and protecting and preserving cultural heritage damaged, trafficked or endangered by conflicts and disasters, recalling the objectives of UNSC Resolution 2347. We ask our relevant institutions to further pursue the G20 cooperation on culture.”

This statement is in line with the first recommendation from the AC’s new report, Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones: A Roadmap for the G20 to Combat the Illicit Trade in Cultural Objects. The report, co-authored with international experts, called for the G20 to Build Political Will through a statement in the final declaration: 

“Building on the July 2021 Rome Declaration of the G20 Ministers of Culture, leaders could issue a strong statement in the 2021 Rome Summit communiqué that recognizes looting and illicit trade of cultural objects as serious crimes, prioritizes disrupting and dismantling criminal networks, and advances a long-term strategy to combat the illicit trade’s root causes.”

Leadership at the highest levels is needed to make safeguarding cultural heritage an international priority. By demonstrating the political will to combat looting and trafficking from the top down, the G20 has laid the foundation for all its other work. The AC commends the Italian Republic and the G20 for making this issue part of its agenda and work this year. 

Read the Leaders’ Declaration 

Read our Report