In 2013, two new Member States joined the 1970 UNESCO Convention: Myanmar and the Kingdom of Lesotho each submitted their instruments of ratification.
These ratifications are an important step in strengthening the development of the 1970 Convention, which now counts 125 States Parties, and reflects the growing international support in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property across the world. In 2012, three other States also ratified the Convention: Kazakhstan, Palestine and Swaziland.
States Parties benefit from the Convention as it fosters the international cooperation to promote preventive actions in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property and develop measures at national and international levels for the restitution of cultural objects.
To deal with cases outside the scope of the 1970 Convention or other international agreements, UNESCO set up in 1978 the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation. This platform of negotiation, mediation and conciliation intends to facilitate the restitution of important cultural objects, such as the Parthenon sculptures, and to develop means to prevent and raise awareness about the combat against illicit trafficking.
Nowadays, given the problem of illegal excavations and trade of archaeological objects, the 1970 Convention now stands at a crossroads. Many UNESCO Member States would like to increase its visibility, improve its implementation at national level and reconsider its perspectives for the future.