Countering the illicit trading of cultural goods: Recent trends, emerging issues, and LEA responses in Turkey

Umut Turksen, Engin Erken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The illicit trading of cultural goods (ITCG) has increasingly drawn the attention of international community in the last two decades. The vehement interconnections between the ITCG and other notorious global threats, such as organised crime (OC), money laundering (ML), and the financing of terrorism (FT), are well documented. Turkey, as one of the prominent cradles of many civilizations with a rich cultural heritage, has been intensifying its efforts to address the problem. Nevertheless, our literature analysis indicates that based on the misconception that the ITCG has no immediate and identifiable victims when compared to that of arms trade or narcotics, both national and international responses to this end have been limited. Moreover, the lack of ratification of essential international legal instruments, such as the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects and the 2017 Nicosia Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, further limits cross-border collaboration and coordination in tackling the trading of cultural goods. Accordingly, by reviewing and incorporating relevant literature, this paper critically analyses how Turkey has established its pertinent national legal and institutional framework. Secondly, in light of statistical evidence, the article provides a critique of how relevant stakeholders and law enforcement agencies (LEAs), in particular, deal with this type of crime. By doing so, this paper highlights the obstacles they encounter and offers a number of novel solutions, which would not only eliminate the identified predicaments but also help create more effective policies that could enhance the operational aspects of countering the ITCG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
JournalTrends in Organized Crime
Early online date1 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2023


  • trafficking
  • cultural heritage
  • cultural goods
  • illicit trade


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