Museum and Cultural Objects


Museums foster an integrated approach to cultural heritage as well as the links of continuity between creation and heritage. They also enable local communities to rediscover their roots and to approach other cultures. Movable cultural objects, however, are often threatened by illicit trafficking, due to their value both as commercial goods and as components of cultural identity.

UNESCO New Delhi’s strategy focuses on enhancing an integrated understanding of heritage and their potential contribution to the economic, social and human development of local communities and disadvantaged groups, through training and awareness-raising activities, and strengthening professional networks and partnerships for safeguarding cultural objects.

  • Movable Heritage and Museum
  • Illicit Traffic of Art Objects

Movable Heritage and Museum


Recognizing the need for protection and restitution of the cultural property in the event of armed conflicts or illicit trafficking during the Second World War, in 1954, UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict at The Hague, Netherlands. To prevent illicit trafficking, an Intergovernmental Committee was established in 1978 for the promotion of the return of Cultural Property to its Countries of origin or its restitution in case of illicit appropriation.

Museums also play an important role in the conservation, research, communication and exhibition for the purposes of education and management of the material evidence of people and their environment. Their primary purpose is to safeguard and preserve the heritage as a whole, which could be both an actor and an instrument of dialogues between nations and of a common international vision aimed at cultural development.

  • Bhutan (under preparation)
  • India (under preparation)
  • Sri Lanka (under preparation)
  • Maldives (under preparation)

Illicit Traffic of Art Objects


Archaeological artifacts and art objects are internationally protected by the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocol of 1954, and their circulation is prohibited by the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Under the provisions of these international treaties, States cooperate to protect the cultural property on their territory and fight its illicit import, export and transfer.

To date, the 1970 Convention has been ratified by 122 Member States of UNESCO, including many culture-rich countries as well as former hubs of illicit traffic. Among the UNESCO South Asia member states, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have ratified. In response to the problems of illegal excavations and trade of archaeological objects, many UNESCO Member States are currently making efforts to increase the 1970 Convention’s visibility, improve its implementation at national level and reconsider its perspectives for the future.

  • The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocol (1954)
  • Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)
  • Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995)
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