On 14-15 December 2022, EUAM Iraq convened a two-day technical workshop for developing a pilot Iraqi national database of stolen and missing cultural heritage artifacts. 30 participants from relevant institutions such as the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and the Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency participated in the event, supported by international keynote speakers and IT experts.
This process, led by EUAM Iraq and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, aims to deliver a dedicated cultural heritage protection tool to support the Iraqi authorities. The digital database is planned to be developed during 2023 in its initial small scale pilot phase.
EUAM Iraq’s Head of Mission Anders Wiberg commented during the workshop: ‘Iraq is home to some of the most ancient sites in the world. They call Iraq and the surrounding region the ‘cradle of civilisation’ for a very good reason. Iraqis indeed deserve a functioning law enforcement mechanism to help protect and preserve this incredible, and deeply meaningful heritage. In fact, I firmly believe this work is very important and meaningful for all Iraqis, and that your institutions can truly make a difference in this global fight’.
The database will aim to contribute to being an important law enforcement investigation tool for the Iraqi authorities, for analysing and interpreting large amounts of cultural heritage protection data. It will contribute to enabling to map criminal networks and focus investigative efforts on suspects or locations involved in cultural-heritage-related crimes.
The database will be compatible with the best international standards, containing pictures, shapes, dimensions, and any other relevant reference points to be used for identification, comparison and verification of the artifacts.
For EUAM Iraq, this work is carried out in the context of the project called Pilot National Database for Cultural Heritage Protection in Iraq (CHP phase II), which was preceded by a preparatory phase I in 2021. In addition to the project aiming at supporting the investigative capabilities of Iraqi authorities, it also supports strengthening the international collaboration, including with reputable law enforcement organisations in this field such as INTERPOL and the Italian Carabinieri for the Protection Cultural Heritage.
On a practical level, the CHP Phase II project proposes a modular technological solution, capable of meeting the needs expressed by the Iraqi stakeholders during phase I and the imperatives of compatibility with existing international systems.
EUAM Iraq has been involved in the topic of Cultural Heritage Protection since the Mission was established in 2017. For example, three international conferences were organized on the theme in 2018 and 2019, raising awareness on legislation, information exchange, and methodologies to protect and preserve cultural heritage. During 2021, the Mission implemented the first phase of the national database project.
Two projects launched with German Federal Foreign Office support: a database for Cultural Heritage Protection in Iraq and a series of Senior Strategic Leadership workshops for the Ministry of Interior (05.11.2022)