Why is the UNESCO–WCO Model Export Certificate needed?

The illicit export of cultural property is an enduring and even increasing phenomenon. In the context of globalization of the art market, illicit traffic of cultural objects constitutes an international industry that threatens to loot, damage and destroy historic testimony and cultural identities.

The joint work of UNESCO and World Customs Organization (WCO) is based on international legal instruments and trends, and responds to the increase in illicit exports of cultural objects.

On the one hand, it reflects the increase in illicit exports of cultural objects, and on the other hand, it recalls the practical importance of export certificates designed to accommodate the specific nature of such objects.

Both the 1970 UNESCO and the 1995 UNIDROIT Conventions recommend the use of export certificates for cultural objects.

The Model Export Certificate is to be used by customs officers and customs offices at the point of exit from a country and persons wishing to export cultural property. If it is extensively adopted worldwide and therefore operates as an international standard, it will benefit States and facilitate the work of police and customs officials.

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