Protection of Cultural Property

This new project being undertaken by the UNIDROIT Foundation supports the important work done by UNIDROIT in the field of the protection of Cultural Property and the 1995 Unidroit Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.

UNIDROIT undertakes several initiatives in the field of cultural property, some of the initiatives are recent developments, and others are long-standing projects. A level of immediacy has been brought to UNIDROIT’s work due to the recent link drawn between illicit trafficking of cultural goods and the financing of terrorism. The proposed link has brought heightened attention to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural goods, and consequentially, to legal instruments designed to aid in this fight. Implementation of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention and UNESCO- UNIDROIT Model Provisions are crucial to effectively fight illicit trafficking. The promotion of these instruments has proven to be fundamental to this effort.

The 1995 UNIDROIT Convention Academic Project
A major undertaking of UNIDROIT in the promotion of the Convention is the launch of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention Academic Project. The Academic Project is an online digital platform of legal materials that facilitates the study of the Convention. The website, created and maintained in house, whose design was generously supported by the UNIDROIT Foundation, can be found at:

Presently, the Foundation is actively raising funds to accomplish the following:
• Organising an annual conference hosted by a University partner on the themes embodied in the Convention.
• Supporting a student/scholar to complete a research scholarship, hosted at UNIDROIT, where he/she will be dedicated to the study of cultural heritage law.
• Providing financial assistance in the building of relationships between UNIDROIT and Universities with programs dedicated to the study of cultural heritage law and art law.
Develop further tools to support the Convention.

In view of the complexity of the subject and the already-existing initiatives in the field, the Foundation proposes to fund feasibility studies on new tools that could enrich the international community and protect the art market. Studies could be carry out in the following areas:
• Study No 1 on existing registries of cultural property in public and private hands. A feasibility study on the development of a voluntary e-registry for cultural property (methodology, target, maintenance, cost, benefits, challenges, etc.).
• Study No 2 on a best practice guide for art market participants: art dealers, collectors, and auction houses. A feasibility study on existing tools available to selected players in the art market as related to acquisition, sale and transaction transparency. These tools include code of ethics, guidelines, principles and other soft law instruments.

Promote implementation of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention
There are many possibilities for promotion of the UNIDROIT legal instruments, yet, as a small task force global promotion has proved difficult. UNIDROIT envisages the development of a comprehensive marketing campaign that has the capacity to reach a global audience. Such a campaign would include:
• Media sources (posters, videos, flyers, pamphlets, etc.) to aid governments in the understanding of the Convention’s provisions;
• Manuals and Information kits;
• Briefs for museums, art dealers, auction houses, art collectors consisting of conceptual maps illustrating the Convention’s requirements for due diligence;
• Infographics to be dispersed in all concerned communities: schools, universities, training programs for law enforcement authorities, and various partners in the cause.

Further information on UNIDROIT’s work in this field is available on the UNIDROIT website.