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The AC Joins Mediterranean Leaders in Signing Naples Declaration

July 13, 2022

Communiqué Calls for Stronger Cultural Heritage Protection Throughout the Region

On June 16-17, the Conference of the Ministers of Culture of the Mediterranean brought together governments with European, intergovernmental, and non-governmental organizations in Italy. This first cultural ministerial of the EU-Southern partnership—a coalition between the European Union, and its neighbors on the Mediterranean—concluded with leaders signing the Naples Declaration. The Antiquities Coalition was honored to be one of the few non-governmental delegations, and the only one from the United States, invited to sign the communique and speak at the broader event.

The Naples Declaration seeks to protect cultural heritage from disasters and other crisis scenarios, while highlighting how culture drives and enables sustainable development. It reinforces several previous commitments to safeguarding cultural heritage, including the G20’s 2021 Rome Declaration. Specifically, it urges nations to:

Strengthen measures to combat illicit trafficking in cultural goods through a multifaceted / intersectoral approach that takes into account its criminal, financial and social dimensions. To this end, explore measures to improve the legal frameworks for strengthening the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural goods, in particular their repatriation or return to their countries of origin, and explore measures for strengthening cooperation among police, customs, and authorities cross-border cultural administration.

Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition, Tess Davis, emphasized how Mediterranean leaders can prioritize the protection of cultural heritage as part of her remarks during the event. While this ministerial and Naples Declaration send a strong message to bad actors in the art market, leaders throughout the Mediterranean region must take continuous action to ensure we effectively combat the illegal trade of cultural racketeering. 

The Antiquities Coalition looks forward to seeing how the Naples Declaration will strengthen cultural heritage protection throughout the Mediterranean and inspire other regions to combat cultural racketeering.