Movable cultural objects and the museums in which they are conserved constitute exceptional repositories of cultural diversity. As points of access for knowledge about cultures and centres of—formal and non-formal—education, museums also contribute to mutual understanding and social cohesion as well as economic and human development.
Museums foster an integrated approach to cultural heritage as well as the links of continuity between creation and heritage. They also enable various publics, notably local communities and disadvantaged groups, to rediscover their roots and approach other cultures. Nevertheless, many museum staff lacks—often severely—the technical knowledge that meets international professional standards. Moreover, movable cultural objects are particularly threatened, due to their value both as commercial goods and as components of cultural identity, by illicit trafficking.
Therefore, UNESCO’s strategy focuses on: Least Developed Countries (LDC) and countries in emergency situations (post-conflict or post-natural disaster), particularly in Africa; and the museums and collections that best contribute to an integrated understanding of heritage and their potential contribution to the economic, social and human development of local communities and disadvantaged groups. This strategy is implemented through: training activities involving simple and efficient techniques for safeguarding objects, with a special emphasis on the creation of pedagogical tools; museum development by strengthening professional networks and partnerships; improving educational content and access to knowledge through awareness-raising and educational activities; promoting the return, restitution and improved access to cultural objects by means of awareness-raising and advisory activities and innovative partnerships; and finally, through the joint implementation of normative and operational activities, particularly in regard to the fight against illicit trafficking and the protection of underwater heritage.