PHNOM PENH, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, in cooperation with the Antiquities Coalition, will organize an International Conference on Cultural Property Protection in the cultural province of Siem Reap, said a ministry's press statement on Friday.
The conference, held on Sept. 5-8, will be focusing on the protection and prevention of illicit trade in cultural properties, which is threatening Southeast Asia's rich heritage, local communities, and national economies, the statement said.
The event will bring together government officials and experts in cultural policy, law enforcement, museums, and the art market from around the world, it said.
"This diverse group of experts will come together to develop concrete solutions to safeguard the region's past for future generations and to recover national treasures for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)," the statement said.
According to the statement, on Sept. 7, Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona will chair an international plenum and a meeting of culture ministers from the ASEAN.
"This historic forum provides an opportunity to foster greater collaboration and understanding between ASEAN's member states and key international partners from Asia, Europe, and the United States," it said. "It will also explore the possible modalities within ASEAN in tackling this cross-border issue."
The statement said that during the decades of war, a massive number of national treasures were illicitly trafficked out of Cambodia and commodified in the international art market.
Cambodia is working with a number of other countries to significantly decrease looting.
"The return of Cambodia's cultural property has acted as a catalyst causing museums and private collectors to reevaluate their collections and processes for purchasing or receiving antiquities," the statement said.
It added that Cambodia is now embarked on a worldwide campaign to recover its national masterpieces.
In a recent success, the kingdom was able to secure the return of 30 looted masterpieces, including the statues of "Ganesha" and "Skanda on a Peacock," from the United States. ■