Ms Alesia Koush

Restoring cultural justice: a human rights-based approach to illicit antiquities' trafficking


 Illicit trafficking in archaeological heritage is a form of transnational organized crime, which roots often lead to drugs trafficking, money laundering and financing of terrorism. During clandestine excavations, conducted in violation of source countries’ laws, archaeological sites, their irreplaceable historical contexts and often artefacts themselves are destroyed. Not being able to access the archaeological heritage ending up on the black market, both source nations and humanity, collectively and individually, are deprived of their right to access cultural heritage with knowledge and identity it contains, which intrinsically implies the violation of their right to development. Therefore, holistic rights-based approaches and strategies need to be employed in order to advance the cultural heritage protection, both in war and peace time, to a qualitatively new level and to restore cultural justice. The 1935 Roerich Pact for the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments represents one of the path-setting examples of the elevation of protection of culture to the level of an inalienable right of every human being and humanity as a whole.


Alesia Koush specializes in cultural heritage protection legislation and policy-making, illicit trafficking in archaeological heritage, cultural human rights and heritage value education for sustainable development. She acquired three MA degrees in the EU Politics and Administration (College of Europe, Belgium), Art History (University of Florence, Italy) and Human Rights, Migrations and Development (University of Bologna, Italy), gathering subsequently professional experience in cultural heritage field working with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Art, Italian World Heritage Sites Association, UNESCO Centre of Florence Onlus and other organizations in Italy. She is currently a Lecturer at the International Institute Life Beyond Tourism of the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation in Florence, and collaborates as a Consultant with the UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence, Commission for the Protection of Italian and Foreign Cultural Heritage of the Academy of Arts and Drawings and CAMNES Centre for Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies in Florence.

Member of ICOM, ICOMOS and UNESCO Emergency Safeguarding of Syrian Cultural Heritage Roster of Experts, Alesia is active internationally conducting lectures, trainings and speeches, publishing articles and organizing conferences and events on the themes of her academic and professional expertise.


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