The New Delhi Declaration adopted at the G20 Summit emphasised the “strengthening” of the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property at the national, regional or international levels to enable its “return and restitution” to their countries and communities of origin.
Protection and restitution of cultural property is one of the four pillars of culture articulated under India’s presidency of the influential grouping.
The G20 Summit was held at the newly-built Bharat Mandapam at Pragati Maidan from September 9-10.
It was attended by US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, among other world leaders.
The declaration, the adoption of which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came out at the start of the second session of the G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 9.
The declaration also highlights the “crucial role of tourism and culture” as a means for sustainable socio-economic development and economic prosperity, and takes note of the Goa Roadmap for Tourism as one of the vehicles for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We call for the full recognition and protection of culture with its intrinsic value as a transformative driver and an enabler for the achievement of the SDGs and advance the inclusion of culture as a standalone goal in future discussions on a possible post-2030 development agenda,” reads the text of the declaration, under the sub-head ‘Culture as a Transformative Driver of SDGs’.
The Preamble of the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration begins by asserting that “We are One Earth, One Family, and we share One Future”.
As Leaders of G20, the premier global forum for international economic cooperation, “we resolve to act in concrete ways through partnerships”, and “we commit to accelerate strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth”, it says.
In the sub-head ‘Culture as a Transformative Driver of SDGs’, the declaration also speaks about the illicit trafficking of cultural property and their restitution to their countries and communities of origin as relevant.
“We reiterate our commitment to strengthen our fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property at national, regional or international levels to enable its return and restitution to their countries and communities of origin as relevant, and call for sustained dialogue and action in that endeavour, with a view to strengthening cultural diplomacy and intercultural exchanges, consistent with national law and relevant UNESCO Conventions,” it reads.
The fourth and last Culture Working Group meeting was held in Varanasi from August 23-25, followed by the Culture Ministerial Meeting on August 26 in the holy town.
At the end of the G20 Culture Ministerial Meeting, an Outcome Document and Chair’s Summary — ‘Kashi Culture Pathway’ — was issued.
The ‘Kashi Culture Pathway’ reiterated the deepest concern for the “continued looting and illicit trafficking of cultural property – including through the rise of the online market and other digital and social platforms, which may require specific regulation – as well as for organised crime committed globally against cultural heritage and cultural institutions”.
The outcome document further underlined that “destruction and illicit trafficking of cultural property are serious crimes and can be linked to money laundering, corruption, tax evasion and terrorist financing, notably in conflict or post-conflict situations, and reiterating our commitment to strengthen the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property”.
G20 Culture Ministerial Meeting’s Outcome Document and Chair’s Summary — ‘Kashi Culture Pathway; and G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meeting Outcome Document and Chairs’ Summary, are among the documents which have been annexed to the G20 leaders’ declaration.
In the Varanasi ministerial meeting, deliberations were held on the four pillars of culture articulated under India’s presidency of the G20.
These pillars are the protection and restitution of cultural property, harnessing living heritage for a sustainable future, promotion of cultural and creative industries and creative economy, and leveraging digital technologies for the protection and promotion of culture.
The G20 leaders in the New Delhi declaration also resolved to “encourage the international community to protect the living cultural heritage, including the intellectual property, notably with regard to the impact of the over-commercialisation and misappropriation of such living heritage on the sustainability and on the livelihoods of practitioners and community bearers as well as Indigenous Peoples”.