The OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in co-operation with the Center against Trafficking in Works of Art (CPKU), hosted the exhibition “Missing Works of Art”, which was followed by a panel discussion on combatting illicit trafficking in cultural property in BiH.
The exhibition was an opportunity for the public to view reproductions of missing artworks from galleries, museums and private collections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The exhibition also presented information on the destruction and theft at archaeological sites, confiscations, illegal sale of artifacts through social networks, use of metal detectors for illegal research and robberies, as well as on the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Red List of potentially endangered cultural heritage of Southeast Europe.
“The exhibition shall serve as a touching reminder that the fight against the illegal trafficking of art is not just a battle for the preservation of cultural artifacts; it is a battle for justice, a battle for the soul of collective heritage. So, let us all be inspired by works of art showcased here today, which have, time and again, triumphed over adversity and let us pledge to ensure that these missing pieces are not forgotten but become catalysts for change.” said Szabolcs Tuncsik, Senior Police Advisor at the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Exhibition’s opening.
After the exhibition, representatives of law enforcement agencies, ministries of culture, justice, representatives of the academic community, experts and representatives of non-governmental organizations discussed illegal art trade in BiH and abroad during a panel discussion. This resulted in the proposal of initiatives and conclusions aimed to address illegal trade in cultural goods organized crime and terrorism, as well as crimes that are financed from illegal art trade.
“For us, raising public awareness is an extremely important segment of activity. This exhibition is largely conceived as an educational one, with vast amount of information on the issue,” said Dženan Jusufović, President of the Center against Trafficking in Works of Art. “There are three segments when it comes to the fight against theft and smuggling of cultural goods: research, repression and sensibility. In order to improve the situation in the country, it is important to continue raising public awareness and training professional staff, as this is the only way to protect cultural assets and prevent criminal groups from threatening security in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, he added.
This exhibition and panel discussion were organized on the occasion of the International Day of Combating Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property, first adopted by UNESCO in 2019 to commemorate the signing of the 1970 Paris Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, as the major international legal instrument for combating illicit trafficking of cultural property.