Skip to main content
Specialized Course on Cultural Heritage, Crime and Security

Specialized Course on Cultural Heritage, Crime and Security: Protecting our Past to Invest in our Future

13-17 November 2023, Online - Deadline for application: 29 October 2023


The protection of cultural heritage is a critical component within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, as reported under Goal 11 through which countries have pledged to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” In particular, Target 11.4 of Goal 11 aims to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.”

Over the years, the number of international crimes related to the looting and trafficking of cultural heritage property have significantly grown. Moreover, their links to international criminal activity, including the use of assets to finance terrorist activities, are becoming more evident year by year.

The concern of the  international community on this matter is also demonstrated by the adoption in the past decades of diverse conventions providing guidance to Member States on the protection and recovery of their cultural assets. As embodied in the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, the United Nations seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

In this context, as the UN Institute mandated to crime prevention and the administration of criminal justice, UNICRI supports Member States to enhance their capacities in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting all forms of crimes concerning legal and illegal trafficking of cultural heritage.

“Cultural property speaks a universal language. It educates people and depicts their values and beliefs. […] Cultural rights are human rights, and having access to their priceless antiquities is a right of every people. They cannot and should not be considered commodities to trade for profit on illicit or licit markets”, declared UNICRI Director Antonia Marie De Meo during the Ceremony for the Repatriation of Libyan Cultural Artifacts in 2022, a project in which UNICRI has assisted authorities in identifying a broad range of Libyan assets located abroad, including cultural assets, with an estimated value of 54 billion US dollars.

With these considerations in mind, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), in cooperation with The American University of Rome (AUR), is organizing the fourth edition of the Specialized Course on Cultural Heritage, Crime and Security - Protecting our Past to Invest in our Future which will be delivered online, from 13 to 17 November 2023.

The course will provide participants with a fundamental understanding of heritage crime and how heritage organisations, law enforcement bodies and judicial systems are responding to the issue.

The course curriculum is likely to include the following topics:

  • Protection of cultural property: the international legal framework
  • Countering looting
  • Understanding criminal trafficking networks
  • Armed conflicts, peacebuilding, and the protection of cultural heritage
  • Protecting museums and heritage sites
  • The use of cultural property as a tool for terrorism and a means to finance it
  • Building communities and supporting development through cultural heritage

The Specialized Course offers professional, legal, social, scientific, and academic perspectives through live webinars, group discussions, dynamic case studies, individual readings, and practical exercises. The faculty is composed of leading scholars and academics from AUR and other universities, as well as international legal experts from the United Nations system, international and non-governmental organizations, and civil society.

Through a dedicated online platform, participants will have the opportunity to interact with internationally recognized experts and peers from all over the world and build lasting professional relationships.

This experience aims to foster intercultural dialogue and to promote a deeper understanding of the most important and emerging issues faced by the international community in relation to cultural heritage, crime, and security.

For more information please click here.