The protection of cultural heritage is a critical component within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, as reported under Goal 11 through which countries have pledged to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” In particular, Target 11.4 of Goal 11 aims to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.”

Over the years, the number of international crimes related to the looting and trafficking of cultural heritage property have significantly grown. Moreover, their links to international criminal activity, including the use of assets to finance terrorist activities, are becoming more evident year by year.

The concern of the international community on this matter is also demonstrated by the adoption in the past decades of diverse conventions providing guidance to Member States on the protection and recovery of their cultural assets. As embodied in the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, the United Nations seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

In this context, as the UN Institute mandated to crime prevention and the administration of criminal justice, UNICRI supports Member States to enhance their capacities in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting all forms of crimes concerning legal and illegal trafficking of cultural heritage.

“Cultural property speaks a universal language. It educates people and depicts their values and beliefs. […] Cultural rights are human rights, and having access to their priceless antiquities is a right of every people. They cannot and should not be considered commodities to trade for profit on illicit or licit markets”, declared UNICRI Director Antonia Marie De Meo during the Ceremony for the Repatriation of Libyan Cultural Artifacts in 2022, a project in which UNICRI has assisted authorities in identifying a broad range of Libyan assets located abroad, including cultural assets, with an estimated value of 54 billion US dollars.

With these considerations in mind, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), in cooperation with The American University of Rome (AUR), is organizing the fourth edition of the Specialized Course on Cultural Heritage, Crime and Security - Protecting our Past to Invest in our Future which will be delivered online, from 13 to 17 November 2023.

The course will give participants a fundamental understanding of heritage crime and how heritage organizations, law enforcement bodies, and judicial systems respond to the issue.

The course curriculum is likely to include the following topics:

  • Protection of cultural property: the international legal framework
  • Countering looting
  • Understanding criminal trafficking networks
  • Armed conflicts, peacebuilding, and the protection of cultural heritage
  • Protecting museums and heritage sites
  • The use of cultural property as a tool for terrorism and a means to finance it
  • Building communities and supporting development through cultural heritage

The Specialized Course offers professional, legal, social, scientific, and academic perspectives through live webinars, group discussions, dynamic case studies, individual readings, and practical exercises. The faculty is composed of leading scholars and academics from AUR and other universities, as well as international legal experts from the United Nations system, international and non-governmental organizations, and civil society.

Through a dedicated online platform, participants can interact with internationally recognized experts and peers from all over the world and build lasting professional relationships.

This experience aims to foster intercultural dialogue and promote a deeper understanding of the most important and emerging issues faced by the international community concerning cultural heritage, crime, and security.

Relevant information

Course Calendar

Dates: 13-17 November 2023         

Venue: Online

Course deadlines

Application deadline: 29 October 2023

Confirmation of acceptance: Within one week following receipt of the application

Payment deadline: Within one week following confirmation of acceptance

1. Entry requirements

The course, organized by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), in cooperation with The American University of Rome (AUR), is designed for university graduates in Law, Political Science, International Relations, Economics, Social Science, Cultural Heritage, Museum Studies, Archaeology, and other relevant disciplines. It is also addressed to professionals working in governmental institutions, local authorities, international and non-governmental organizations, museums, heritage sites, and cultural institutions seeking to deepen their understanding of the most salient issues the international community faces in relation to cultural heritage, crime, and security.

Candidates must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Hold a three-year university degree issued by an internationally recognized university in one of the aforementioned areas.
  • Have a very good working knowledge of English.
  • Applications from students who expect to graduate at the end of the 2023/24 academic year will also be considered.

2. Course Methodology

This course is delivered online. It combines live webinars in our virtual classroom, led by subject matter experts, with self-paced activities and interactive group discussions.

The live webinars are conducted on a dedicated online platform. Participants need a computer (recommended) or a mobile device with audio and video capabilities, a headset with a microphone to connect to the audio through the computer or mobile device, and a reliable internet connection. We recommend accessing audio through the computer. No special software is required. Upon acceptance to the course, participants will be provided with the information to access the platform.

The live webinars are from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm Rome-time (8:30 am to 12:00 pm New York time), from Monday to Friday. Kindly note that recorded webinars will be available upon request.

3. How to apply

  • Application deadline: please complete and send the application form to by 29 October 2023.
  • Confirmation of acceptance: the selection process results will be communicated via e-mail within one week following receipt of the application.
  • Payment deadline: full payment must be finalized within one week following confirmation of acceptance (i.e., candidates should provide UNICRI with proof of payment via E-mail to

Download the APPLICATION FORM 2023

4. Registration Fees

  • Registration fee amounts to 800 Euro.
  • Registration fee includes:
    Course material (electonically)
    Sessions are recorded and made available for later viewing (on request)

5. Cancellation and Refunds

In the event of a participant cancellation for any reason, registration fees will not be refunded.

6. Certificate of participation

Upon attendance of all live webinars and completion of the course activities and assignments, participants will receive a United Nations and The American University of Rome certificate of participation.

7. Contacts

Email: (please indicate “Cultural Heritage” in the subject of the email). Tel: (+39) 011 6537111