Qatar National Library (QNL) recently held an online training course on combating art trafficking that explored the restitution of cultural heritage, with a special focus on manuscripts and ancient books. This training, which is within the framework of the QNL’s Himaya project, supports efforts to counter the trafficking and illegal circulation of documentary heritage.
Delivered by Paris-based intellectual property and art lawyer Sydney Chiche-Attali, the training course brought together experts and specialists in protecting documentary heritage from many Arab countries and outlined the international and regional legal frameworks of the restitution of art and cultural goods.
Stephane Ipert, director of Distinvtive Collections,QNL, said: “Cultural property is an indispensable part of a nation’s identity, and considering the number of countries in conflict or turmoil in the Middle East, the importance of combating art trafficking cannot be overstated. “QNL’s recent training course on the subject matter is not only timely and relevant, but it also supports the collective effort to promote the restitution of cultural heritage in the region and around the world.”
During the session, Chiche-Attali provided an overview of the historical and contextual backgrounds of art restitution cases. He also presented the regional and international legal framework regarding the restitution of works of art and illustrated its application with case studies, with particular attention paid to manuscripts and ancient books.
Chiche-Attali commented, “While legal frameworks are set in motion to regulate the restitution of art and cultural goods, it is equally important to raise awareness about art trafficking and to promote the various means to combat this growing phenomenon.”
The session is the second of the QNL’s efforts to highlight the importance of combating art trafficking; the first, in November 2020, focused on the laws surrounding the looting and trafficking of important artifacts in the Middle East and around the world. It also builds on QNL’s drive to promote continuous learning and professional capacity building in the region.
As the IFLA Preservation and Conservation Regional Centre for Arab Countries and the Middle East, QNL aims to create a professional network of collaborative assistance to exchange knowledge and share successful experiences toward the preservation of documentary heritage throughout the region.
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