Siem Reap To Host International Conference on Cultural Property Protection Next Week

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in cooperation with the Antiquities Coalition will organise an International Conference on Cultural Property Protection, focusing on the protection and prevention of illicit trade in cultural properties, that is threatening Southeast Asia's rich heritage, local communities, and national economies, an issue of great importance to the people of Southeast Asia

Aaccording to a press release of the Ministry of Culture AKP received this afternoon, this event, to take place in Siem Reap province from Sept. 5 to 8, 2022, will gather government officials with top experts from around the world, drawing from leaders in policy, law enforcement, museums, the art market, and civil society. This diverse group of experts will come together to develop concrete solutions to safeguard the region's past for future generations and to recover national treasures for ASEAN.

On Sept. 7, H.E. Ms. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts will chair an International Plenum and a meeting of culture ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This historic forum provides an opportunity to foster greater collaboration and understanding between ASEAN's member states and key international partners from Asia, Europe, and the United States. It will also explore the possible modalities within ASEAN in tackling this cross-border issue.

In the past during the decades of war, a massive number of national treasures were illicitly trafficked out of Cambodia and commodified in the international art market. Under the wise leadership of Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the win-win policy which has brought peace and political stability in the country, Cambodia is able to work with a number of other countries to significantly decrease looting. The return of Cambodia's cultural property has acted as a catalyst causing museums and private collectors to reevaluate their collections and processes for purchasing or receiving antiquities.

Cambodia is now embarked on a worldwide campaign to recover its national masterpieces. In a recent success, the Kingdom of Cambodia was able to secure the return of 30 looted masterpieces, including the statues of "Ganesha" and "Skanda on a Peacock", through bilateral cooperation with the United States. Both of these masterpieces hail from Koh Ker, the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire from 928 to 944 C.E. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit Koh Ker for a guided tour during the conference and will be able to see first-hand the devastating impact of the illicit trade on cultural heritage sites.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press