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The Ambassador Stellino chairs the UNESCO committee for the return of cultural heritage


Ambassador Liborio Stellino, Permanent Representative of Italy to UNESCO, chaired the 24th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP), held from May 29 to 31, 2024. The session addressed topics of great relevance to the protection of world cultural heritage.

Among the most significant issues discussed were the potential restitutions of the Parthenon Marbles (Greece – United Kingdom), the Broken Hill skull (Zambia – United Kingdom), and the Bronze Head from Ife (Nigeria – United Kingdom/Belgium). Special attention was given to facilitating quicker and easier access to mediation and conciliation procedures between States and to the revision of the ethical code for art dealers, with the aim of promoting ethical and transparent behavior in the trade of cultural goods.

At the end of the session, a discussion forum was held with the participation of some of the world’s leading experts in the field. In this context, crucial topics such as the diligent management of cultural assets, regional cooperation, and issues related to the restitution of items from the colonial period were thoroughly examined.

The 24th session of the ICPRCP proved to be an important moment for dialogue and reflection on the future of cultural heritage protection worldwide, as well as the prominent role that Italy has achieved in this significant area of UNESCO’s activities. This success is also due to the crucial role of the Carabinieri, particularly through the Comando per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale (Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage), which since 1969 has shared its expertise with other States through investigations aimed at recovering stolen or illicitly exported cultural goods and through training activities conducted for other police forces in Italy and abroad.