BRUSSELS : In the end of July 2021, the Secretary Seneral of the WCO, Dr Kunio Mikuriya, had a bilateral meeting with his counterpart, Mr Jurgen Stock, within the margins of the first G20 Culture Ministerial that took place in Rome, Italy. Apart from other topics, the two heads of organizations discussed plans to enhance the capacities of Customs and Police officers to fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects. One of the agreements reached during the meeting was to organise a series of webinars in order to disseminate the newest INTERPOL app, ID-Art, to the frontline Customs officers.
As a result, on 20 and 21 October 2021, a joint series of three WCO-INTERPOL webinars on the use of the ID-Art app took place in English, French and Spanish. In total, almost 300 Customs officers from over 50 countries participated in these webinars.
The ID-Art app provides instant access to the INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art database, which contains more than 52,000 objects reported as stolen and still missing from 134 member countries. It can be downloaded on any Apple or Android device, and some of its functionalities are available offline. Searches against the database via the app can be carried out by taking or uploading a photo, or by entering search criteria manually. The app also provides a possibility to record the geographical location in cases when officers want to register information about looting or destruction discovered during the field controls. Another important functionality of the app allows officers to record the information on the detained object in accordance with the international standard “Object-ID”, which can serve as a critical piece of evidence used to identify cultural objects in cooperation with other governmental agencies.
In combination with the WCO’s ARCHEO secure communication platform, the ID-Art app is another important tool for the frontline officers allowing them to enhance their capabilities in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects.