UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects
- Type: Convention
- Date of signature: 24/06/1995
- Place of signature: Rome, Italy
- Depositary: Government of the Italian Republic
- Date of entry into force: 01/07/1998
What is it about?
This Convention, adopted by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), is an improvement over the generally ineffective Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. State parties to the Convention agree to establish legal minimum standards rules for the restitution and return of cultural objects. Provisions concentrate on individuals that sell and on those that possess such objects. Under the Convention, the possessor of a stolen cultural object has to return it. Any claim for restitution must be brought within a period of three years from the time when the claimant knew the location of the cultural object and the identity of its possessor, and in any case within a period of fifty years from the time of the theft. The possessor of a stolen cultural object required to return it shall be entitled, at the time of its restitution, to payment of fair and reasonable compensation provided that the possessor neither knew nor ought reasonably to have known that the object was stolen and can prove that it exercised due diligence when acquiring the object. A Contracting State may request the court or other competent authority of another Contracting State to order the return of a cultural object illegally exported from the territory. Such requests can be made either in the State where the object is located, or to the courts or other competent authorities otherwise having jurisdiction under the rules in force in Contracting States.
Why is it relevant?
The UNIDROIT Convention aims to provide relief to sites that have suffered increased theft and pillage starting in the 1980’s. As stated, this Convention supplements the measures taken by the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Paris, 14 November 1970) which only allowed for the return of cultural property stolen or illegally exported from the country of origin.
State parties must regularly inform the depositary of the convention of their legislation concerning the exportation of cultural property.
- Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Paris, 16 November 1972)
- Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Paris, 14 November 1970)