Berlin, November 16-18, 2020 | International Online-Conference

Cultural Heritage and Multilateralism:

Regional and International Strategies for the Protection of Cultural Heritage

Ancient manuscripts dated from the 15th century, pictured in Timbuktu, Mali.
Around 285,000 of the manuscripts were evacuated to Bamako in a rescue operation in 2012. © dpa

International online conference

Welcome to the website of the online conference Cultural Heritage and Multilateralism: Regional and International Strategies for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. You will find various pieces of background information on these pages. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!


Climate change, natural disasters, transnational crime and armed conflicts endanger cultural heritage around the world. UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites are threatened by rising sea levels, online trade in illegally obtained cultural property is flourishing – since these phenomena transcend national borders, they can only be tackled effectively if states, international organisations, civil society and academics engage in dialogue, coordinate their approaches and build synergies. This conference is a unique forum for multilateral cultural heritage protection issues, and welcomes all stakeholders and the interested public.


In November 2020, Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the German Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the 50th anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property November coincide. This offers a fitting opportunity to discuss the protection of cultural heritage within a broad range of multilateral partners. With the conference “Cultural Heritage and Multilateralism: Regional and International Strategies for the Protection of Cultural Heritage”, the German Federal Foreign Office would like to give the floor to all relevant partners and their exchange of views on the value of multilateralism for the protection of cultural heritage. Representatives of international organisations and experts from academia, the political sphere and civil society organisations will discuss mechanisms against trafficking in cultural property, as well as sustainable development and heritage protection, or its risk management.
The adoption of the UNESCO 1970 Convention was a milestone in international cooperation for the protection of cultural heritage. The 50th anniversary of this key instrument, which today has 140 States Parties, is a perfect occasion to look at successes and challenges in the field of the multilateral protection of cultural property.


The three-day online Conference is hosted by the German Federal Foreign Office in partnership with UNESCO, the European Union and the Council of Europe. This will bring together high-ranking representatives from international organisations and nongovernmental organisations with renowned experts. Panels will address issues relating to combating illicit trafficking in cultural property, the protection of cultural heritage in crisis situations, sustainable heritage protection and the return of cultural property under the UNESCO 1970 Convention, and will provide an opportunity to discuss current challenges. Special attention will also be paid to the contribution collaborative protection of cultural heritage can make to effective multilateralism.


The conference will take place online via this live stream between Monday, 16 November 2020, 13.00 (CET) and Wednesday, 18 November, 17.00 (CET). Conference languages will be English and French. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided. The conference programme can be viewed here.