The Resolution on “Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin” was unanimously adopted yesterday by the Plenary of the UN General Assembly, following a Greek initiative. The Resolution is submitted by our country every three years, and the final text was formulated through systematic consultation under the mediation of Greece, pursuant to relevant instructions from Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
The Resolution enjoyed wide acceptance, as it was co-sponsored by a total of 74 states, including many member states of the European Union, a significant number of Latin American states, as well as a number of Arab and African states.
This initiative bolsters the return of cultural property to countries of origin, as well as the effort to protect cultural heritage. These two dimensions of the Resolution are seen as particularly timely, given that the Middle East daily suffers destruction of works and monuments of world cultural heritage, while the link between trafficking in cultural property and funding of terrorism is well known.
Special mention is made in the Resolution to the “Ancient Olympia Recommendation,” which calls on member states to mobilize for the return of stolen cultural treasures, with express reference to the return of the Parthenon Marbles. Another, equally important, dimension of the Resolution is the condemnation of the destruction of monuments of world cultural heritage in areas of armed conflict, including in occupied territories, and of illegal trafficking of cultural property by armed terrorist groups, such as ISIS.
As a cradle of knowledge and culture, Greece will always be in the vanguard for protection of world cultural heritage and will continue to promote similar initiatives.