Thinking Towards a New Possible Standard-Setting Instrument for the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections

The growing role of museums around the world has stimulated a debate concerning the adequacy of the existing legal instruments for the protection and promotion of museums and collections.

At the request of the General Conference at its 36th Session, an international experts meeting was convened by UNESCO in July 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in consultation with the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Brazilian Institute of Museums (IBRAM), with the purpose of conducting an assessment of the range of possible modalities for the protection and promotion of museums and collections in times of war and in times of peace. See: UNESCO convenes Experts Meeting on Museums and Collections

This meeting’s assessment was submitted to the Executive Board of UNESCO for examination at its 190th session in October 2012.  The Board Members requested the Director-General to undertake a preliminary study on the technical, legal and museological aspects relating to the desirability of a standard-setting instrument on the protection and promotion of museums and collections for examination by the Executive Board at its 191st session.  

In response to this request, two independent expert studies were conducted, in collaboration with ICOM, which are available at the following links:

  • Study on the desirability, scope, rationale and added value of a standard-setting instrument on the protection and promotion of museums and collections (Museological Aspects) EN I FR
  • Executive Summary (Museological Aspects) EN I FR
  • Preliminary Study on the Advisability of Preparing an International Instrument for the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections (Legal and Technical Aspects) EN 
  • Executive Summary (Legal and Technical Aspects) EN I FR

A non-exhaustive list of standard-setting instruments, national legislations and other relevant texts adopted under the auspices of UNESCO and other intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental meetings which were examined by the authors of the above mentioned studies can be found at the following link:

  • List of international instruments linked to the activities of museums EN I FR

The observations of the Member States relative to the two preliminary studies can be found at the following link:

  • Observations of the Member States Original Language
  • Summary of the Observations of the Member States EN 

Contact Information: Bernards Alens Zako, Programme Specialist, Section of Museums and Creativity

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