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Specialized Course on Cultural Heritage, Crime and Security: Protecting our Past to Invest in our Future, 11-15 March 2024, Hybrid Format: Rome (Italy) and online - Deadline for application: 26 February 2024

Course on Cultural Heritage, Crime and Security

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 has 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 with 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”, said 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 from 11 to 15 March 2024.
The course will provide participants with a fundamental understanding of heritage crime and how heritage organisations, law enforcement bodies and judicial systems are responding to the issue.

The course curriculum is likely to include the following topics:

  • Legal frameworks to protect of cultural property
  • Conflict and decolonization – the legacy of empire
  • Understanding criminal trafficking networks and countering looting
  • Armed conflict and the role of the military in protecting cultural heritage
  • Protecting museums and heritage sites

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.
Whether one attends the course in person at the AUR’s beautiful premises in the centre of Rome (Italy), or through a dedicated online platform, participants will have the opportunity to 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 to promote a deeper understanding of the most important and emerging issues faced by the international community in relation to cultural heritage, crime, and security.


Relevant information


11-15 March 2024       


Rome (Italy) or online

Application deadline

 26 February 2024

Confirmation of acceptance

Within 1 week following receipt of the application

Payment deadline

Within 1 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 suitable for 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 faced by the international community in relation to cultural heritage, crime, and security.

Candidates must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Hold a three-year university degree from an internationally recognized university in one of the mentioned areas.
  • Have a strong command of the English language.

Applications from students expecting to graduate at the end of the 2023/24 academic year will also be considered.

2. Course Methodology

The Specialized Course adopts a hybrid model of learning, which allows participants to attend lectures either in person or virtually through their own device, so as to adjust to individual needs.
Classes will be delivered live for participants on-site and will be streamed for those connected remotely. Special attention will be devoted to ensuring synchronous and seamless interaction with and amongst instructors and participants, both online and in class.
The class schedule may be subject to change for additional activities, which will be communicated before the course begins. Absences resulting from inadequate planning will not be considered justified. Participants who do not complete the course will not be entitled to the certificate award, refunds, or reductions in registration fees.

In-person modality

Classes take place at AUR Campus in Rome (Italy) from Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm CEST.

Online modality
Classes will be streamed via a dedicated online platform from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm CEST from Monday to Friday. Online participants are expected to adjust their schedules to fully participate in the classes irrespective of the time zones they are in.
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, as well as 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. 

3. How to apply

The selection is carried out on a rolling basis.

  • Application deadline: please complete and send the application form - and a scanned copy of your valid passport – to by 26 February 2024.
  • Confirmation of acceptance: the results of the selection process will be communicated via e-mail, within 1 week following receipt of the application.
  • Payment deadline: full payment must be finalized within 1 week following confirmation of acceptance (i.e., candidates should provide UNICRI with proof of payment via E-mail to


4. Applicants requiring a VISA (IMPORTANT)

Applicants requiring a visa are advised to submit an early application (preferably by 15 January 2024) and notify the Administrative Office of this circumstance. The visa shall be issued by the competent Italian Diplomatic Authorities in the countries of nationality or residence of participants or the relevant Visa Application Center. 
Please consider that booking an appointment with the competent Italian Diplomatic Authorities or the Visa Application Center may take up to 3 months, and issuing a visa takes approximately 30 days. Neither UNICRI nor AUR can be held accountable in case of visa refusal.

5. Registration Fees 

In-person modality: 850 Euro.
Online modality: 700 Euro.

Registration fees include:

  • Tuition
  • Course material

6. Cancellation and Refunds

In the event of participant cancellation for any reason, including visa denial, registration fees are non-refundable.

7. Certificate of participation

Upon completion of the entire Specialized Course programme, participants will receive a certificate of participation jointly issued by the United Nations and The American University of Rome. The Organizers retain the discretion to consider severe reasons for absences when issuing the certificate.

8. Contacts

Email: (please indicate “Cultural Heritage” in the subject of the email). Tel: (+39) 06 6789.907