Preventing Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Artifacts

© UNESCO Iraq / Iraq museum in Baghdad

© UNESCO Iraq / Iraq museum in Baghdad

Since its founding, UNESCO has worked continously to enact a series of legal measures to combat the illicit traffic of cultural material.

Standard-setting has been one of UNESCO’s central missions since its inception. UNESCO’s cultural action to prevent illicit traffic of cultural objects and protect monuments and sites rests on a specific legal foundation:

  • The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, with its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999;
  • The 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
  • The 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage;  
  • The 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally exported Cultural Objects
  • The 1999 international fund for the return and restitution of cultural property, launched by UNESCO
  • Resolution 1483, adopted by UN Security Council in 2003
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