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On 26 January 2017 Riga Graduate School of Law organized a training “Cultural Heritage and Art Law: 1st seminar for practitioners”. This was the first educational event in the region targeted at practising specialists in the field. The training course gathered speakers from the state sector, the law enforcement field, plus academic and practical backgrounds from Sweden, Lithuania and Latvia.

The issues discussed brought together attorneys-at-law, IPR experts and European patent, trademark and design attorneys, delegates from the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture and diplomatic bodies. Among the audience were representatives from Latvia, Estonia and Italy.

Sandis Voldiņš, State Secretary for the Ministry of Culture, said “Thank you for taking the initiative with such a specific training course. At the Ministry of Culture we see that the notion of the art market and looting of cultural objects is not only of interest to us, but also to legal practitioners. There is a kind of romanticized [impression] over this kind of thing […], however in reality the point is that what we lose the most is not the object itself, but the knowledge associated with it. For example, if this is an archaeological object – where it was found, who found it, what was the context of the object, this is the most valuable resource – this is the knowledge that we lose, what this object can say about our past and history”.

Added Līga Ābele, former legal head of the State Inspection for Protection of Cultural Monuments, “One of the most beautiful definitions of what cultural heritage represents for us is given in the Faro Convention of 2005, which states: cultural heritage is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. So, this value aspect is the one ever present in the way we talk about cultural heritage. And translation of this value through law that governs our mutual relations is of great importance. That is the reason why we should talk about it!”

And Ieva Švarca, Culture Programme Director of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO observed: “The course was highly inspirational, hearing different views on how heritage is perceived when we are talking about the heritage passed down from generation to generation, and how we perceive our modern creative expressions that might become heritage in years to come”.

As shown during the course, the cultural heritage and art law field is underexplored in our region, but has high potential. Riga Graduate School of Law will continue to organize training courses for practitioners semi-annually with the second seminar to take place on 28th September 2017. An approved agenda will be available soon. Follow our news to be the first to know!

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