UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects

General Detail

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: Rome, Italy
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 01/07/1998

Category

Good Governance

Sub category

Cultural Property

Groups

OPENESS TO MTRSUNIDROIT

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.

Additional Information

State parties must regularly inform the depositary of the convention of their legislation concerning the exportation of cultural property.

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Country ratifications
CountryRatification date
Afghanistan23/09/2005
Algeria09/04/2015
Angola19/06/2014
Argentina03/08/2001
Azerbaijan06/07/2003
Bolivia (Plurinational State of)13/04/1999
Brazil23/03/1999
Cambodia11/07/2002
China07/05/1997
Colombia14/06/2012
Croatia20/09/2000
Cyprus02/03/2004
Denmark01/01/2011
Ecuador26/11/1998
El Salvador16/07/1999
Finland14/06/1999
Gabon12/05/2004
Greece19/07/2007
Guatemala03/09/2003
Honduras27/08/2013
Hungary08/05/1998
Iran22/06/2005
Italy11/10/1999
Lithuania04/04/1997
Macedonia (The former Yugoslav Republic of)22/08/2013
New Zealand16/11/2006
Nigeria01/12/2005
Norway28/09/2001
Panama26/06/2009
Paraguay27/05/1997
Peru05/03/1998
Portugal19/07/2002
Romania21/01/1998
Slovakia16/06/2003
Slovenia08/04/2004
Spain21/05/2002
Sweden28/06/2011
Treaties analysis
YearRatifications
19975
19984
19995
20001
20012
20023
20033
20043
20053
20061
20071
20091
20113
20121
20132
20141
20151
Total40
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