On August 25, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, urged Libyans and art dealers and collectors around the world to protect Libyan heritage during this period of upheaval. But will these statements have any impact in the absence of real enforcement through international organizations like UNESCO or Interpol?
“The heritage of a nation is essential to the ability of its citizens to preserve their identity and self-esteem, to profit from their diversity and their history and build themselves a better future,” the Director-General said.” With this timeless truth in mind, I call on the people of Libya, on neighbouring countries and all those involved in the international art and antiquities trade to do all they can to protect Libya’s invaluable cultural heritage. I immediately contacted those countries and underscored the importance of the fight against the illicit trafficking and illegal export of cultural property.”
“Experience shows that there is a serious danger of destruction during times of social upheaval. It has taught us to look out for looting by unscrupulous individuals, that often damages the integrity of artifacts and of archaeological sites. Careless dealers who buy these objects and fragments are in fact inciting more looting. It is therefore crucial that the international antiquities market be particularly wary of objects from Libya in the present circumstances.”