Cultural heritage – Seizure of two bas-reliefs by French customs authorities (Roissy, September 20, 2016)

We welcome the seizure by French customs authorities on September 20 at Roissy Airport of two bas-reliefs made between the 14th and 16th centuries which may have come from Syria or Lebanon.

Thanks to the successful coordination between the French customs authorities and the Central Office for the Fight against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property, this seizure confirms the effectiveness of our national system for combating the looting of cultural property.

France therefore fully implements its international commitments, notably resolution 2199 adopted on February 12, 2015, by the UN Security Council which prohibits the trade of Syrian cultural property smuggled out of the country since March 15, 2011. It is committed to safeguarding and protecting the archeological treasures threatened by conflict and barbarity, while a significant amount of cultural property has been destroyed or looted over the last few years due to conflicts and the actions of terrorist organizations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

France will continue to mobilize the efforts of the international community in this area and will jointly host together with the United Arab Emirates on December 2 and 3 in Abu Dhabi an international conference on the protection of heritage at risk due to armed conflict. Jean-Marc Ayrault took part in a meeting to present this summit yesterday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. During this meeting attended by the UAE foreign minister, the vice president of the United States and the director-general of UNESCO, President Hollande announced before an audience composed of scientists, foundations and patrons the creation of a global fund to safeguard heritage in danger.

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