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18 February 2013

INTERPOL to support global action plan for rehabilitation of Mali’s cultural sites

PARIS, France – International experts gathered in Paris today to develop a global action plan for the rehabilitation of Mali’s cultural heritage following the recent uprisings that have threatened important cultural sites including the world heritage-listed Timbuktu.

Hosted by UNESCO at its Paris headquarters, the International Meeting of Experts on the Safeguarding of Mali’s Cultural Heritage brought together experts from UNESCO, INTERPOL’s Works of Art unit and other international organizations to call on the global community to establish urgent steps to protect, preserve and restore Mali’s treasured cultural sites.

The meeting was opened by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, Aurélie Filippetti, Minister of Culture and Communication of France, and Bruno Maiga, Minister of Culture of Mali.

As a longtime partner of UNESCO, INTERPOL will support the activities outlined in the proposed action plan, including assessment missions, capacity building and training, and enhanced information exchange. INTERPOL has been involved in protecting the country’s cultural sites since the beginning of the crisis in Mali – in May 2012, INTERPOL alerted its member countries to the risks against Mali cultural heritage, and in February 2013 published a web alert to raise the awareness of the public.

INTERPOL provides support and assistance to its member countries faced with conflict situations. In the past, INTERPOL raised the awareness of its member countries of the illicit trafficking in cultural objects in the aftermath of the crises in Iraq in 2003, Egypt and Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2012.

INTERPOL commends UNESCO for its initiative and supports the plan of action developed together during this important event, which aims at protecting Malian cultural heritage. This initiative will contribute to fight the illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts and more generally to fight all forms of crime in Mali and its region.

In addition to protecting its cultural sites, INTERPOL also provides support to the Malian authorities in tackling other types of serious crimes, notably in the areas of maritime piracy, terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and crimes against humanity.