Online digital platform created to combat looting of world cultural heritage

Online digital platform created to combat looting of world cultural heritage

Combating the looting of Syria`s cultural heritage was the focus of a conference held in Sofia, Bulgaria on 16-17 September. Walk of Truth founder (WoT), Tasoula Hadjitofi announced the building of a ground-breaking on-line digital platform, which engages the public in combating art trafficking in areas of conflict.

A press release said that the conference entitled ‘Fighting the looting of Syria’s Cultural Heritage’ was organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sofia and the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, under the patronage of UNESCO and in cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior, the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus and the WoT (the Netherlands).

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova was a keynote speaker at the conference, which explored the joint efforts from the global community that are essential for protecting cultural heritage and curtailing the looting and illicit trafficking of antiquities, the press release added. Other featured speakers were the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Rumyana Bachvarova, the Bulgarian Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov and Cypriot Ambassador to Bulgaria Stavros Avgoustides.

Founder of WoT Tasoula Hadjitofi was amongst the keynote speakers, and spoke about ‘Engaging the public to combat antiquities looting and trafficking.’ Hadjitofi announced WoT’s ground-breaking on-line digital platform Cultural Crime Watchers Worldwide (CCWW), the first crowd-source mechanism for reporting and investigating criminal acts and networks that destroy and illegally trade in artifacts, the press release said, adding that WoT is currently in the process of building a worldwide network of ‘culture detectives’ in an effort to protect our common worldwide heritage.

With over 30 years of pioneering work in the recovery and repatriation of looted antiquities from Cyprus, Hadjitofi noted that the time has come to go global and requested the public’s contribution.

“Criminals have no borders, and they work in unison, unlike the rest of us, who place our economic and national interests first,” Hadjitofi said. “If we are to combat the war of terror, we need to unite and engage each and every citizen against extremists within our own ethnic groups,” she explained, adding that engaging citizens in the protection of cultural heritage is a good way to unite people and create a positive shift in today’s troubled society.

“We aim to embrace not only the museum community but also the wider public – to engender a sense of custodianship in ordinary people for their monuments and history. Cultural heritage is not an issue limited to the elite, it is something that affects us all.”