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Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage




Since becoming Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass has been dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage and the repatriation of stolen artifacts. Thus far, through the efforts of Dr. Hawass and his team, thousands of artifacts have been returned to Egypt, and more are in the process of coming home.

One of Dr. Hawass's goals has been to hold an international conference in which to bring together the countries that suffer most from illegal antiquities trafficking, to discuss how best to work together to return objects stolen in the past and to prevent future theft.

Recently, Dr. Hawass's dream became a reality when official representatives from 22 countries attended the Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage, held in Cairo on April 7 and 8, 2010. A number of countries, including Egypt, made presentations on their problems and their successes; the conference attendees discussed both the difficulties they face and the solutions they would like to see implemented. Several also brought their "wish lists," the artifacts they would most like to see brought back to their countries of origin. Representatives of the Immigration and Customs Service of the United States also attended and provided information on the repatriation methods that work from the point of view of a market country.

At the conclusion of the conference, the attendees drafted the Cairo Communique, a list of recommendations for how these countries can move forward together in their efforts to protect and restore their cultural heritage. Recommendations included strengthening international cooperation for repatriation efforts, and working to improve local and international laws and law enforcement. The attendees agreed to hold the conference annually in order to build upon this important initiative.

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Wish Lists




Representatives of 22 countries attended the conference in Cairo. (Photo: Ahmed Ehab)
The left eye from a colossal statue of Amenhotep III, one of the pieces that recently has been returned to Egypt. (Photo: Sandro Vannini)

Dr. Elena Korka, Director of the Prehistorical and Classical Antiquities of the Archaeological Service in Greece.
(Photo: Ahmed Soliman)