05.06.2014 - Culture Sector

Bahrain and Chile ratify the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)

The 1970 UNESCO Secretariat is pleased to announce and welcome two UNESCO Member States, namely Bahrain and Chile, to the UNESCO 1970 Convention.

Bahrain officially ratified the Convention on 7 March 2014, and Chile did so on 18 April of the same year. These ratifications are an important step in strengthening and further developing the 1970 Convention, and reflect the growing international support in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property across the world.

A constant concern of the Secretariat has been how to increase the number of States to ratify the 1970 Convention. Harmonization of the legal provisions aimed at combating trafficking in cultural property is made possible by such ratifications and by the transferal of the Convention’s provisions into domestic law. The aim is to prevent traffickers from using loopholes in national legislation to launder their trafficking by placing stolen or illegally exported property on the legal art market circuit. By ratifying the Convention, States send traffickers a sign that they are stepping up monitoring in terms of the legal protection of cultural property and the fight against its trafficking, as well as surveillance of itineraries and transit hubs for cultural property.

The Director-General, Irina Bokova, recently underlined the importance to fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property, speaking on the occasion of the World Tourism Fair (ITB Berlin) in March 2014: “We say that the illicit traffic of cultural property is estimated at $ 7 billion per year, but this is not a question of money: the looting of cultural property is a theft of identities and history of a people, and we must fight all our forces.”

The UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) has today been ratified by 127 States Parties.




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