This section reproduces international and regional instruments directly or indirectly related to the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention or helpful for its enforcement.

International Instruments
  • The 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
  • UNESCO-UNIDROIT Model Provisions on State Ownership of Undiscovered Cultural Objects
Regional Instruments
  • European Parliament and Council Directive 2014/60/EU
  • The 2017 Council of Europe Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property
 The 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 

The text of the 1970 UNESCO Convention is reproduced below due to its complementary nature with the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.

At the end of the 1960 and in the beginning of the 1970s, thefts were increasing both in museums and at archaeological sites, particularly in the countries of the South. In the North, private collectors and, sometimes, official institutions, were increasingly offered objects that had been fraudulently imported or were of unidentified origin.

It is in this context, and to address such situations, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property was adopted in 1970.

The 1970 Convention requires its States Parties to take action in these main fields: preventive measures (inventories, export certificates, monitoring trade, imposition of penal or administrative sanctions, educational campaigns, etc.), restitution provisions and international cooperation

1970 UNESCO Convention

The third Meeting of States Parties, which was held on 18-20 May 2015, adopted the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Resolution 3.MSP 11 ). 

In the text, reference is made to the importance of the ratification of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention. 

Operational Guidelines

Commentary to the 1970 UNESCO Convention (Second Edition)

This commentary, written by Patrick O’Keefe, provides an article-by-article analysis of the Convention, together with detailed studies of the implementation of the Convention in a number of States, including the Australia, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

This second edition of the Commentary was first published in 2007 by the Institute of Art and Law.

The book can be ordered online on the IAL website.

Selected Bibliography:

Neuer, J-J. & Hance, C.: A Common Standard of Due Diligence in Art Practice: towards a harmonization of restitution claims EN

Cornu M.: Implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention in Europe EN | FR

Farmer K.: Implementing the 1970 Convention: The Caribbean in Review EN | FR

Fraoua R.: Legislative and institutional measures to combat trafficking in cultural property in Arab States EN | FR

Gerstenblith P.: Expert Report for participants in the Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention EN | FR | ES

Lee K.-G.: An overview of the implementation of the 1970 Convention in Asia EN | FR

Prott L.V.: Strengths and Weaknesses of the 1970 Convention: An Evaluation 40 years after its adoption, 2nd edition EN | FR | ES

Prott L.V.: Protection of archaeological objects under the 1970 UNESCO Convention EN | FR | ES

Shyllon F.: Implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention by African States: the failure to grasp the nettle EN | FR

Contact: 

Mr Edouard PLANCHE
UNESCO Programme Specialist
Section for Movable Heritage and Museums
Division for Heritage
Email: e.planche(at)unesco.org

UNESCO-UNIDROIT Model Provisions on State Ownership of Undiscovered Cultural Objects

The text of UNESCO-UNIDROIT Model Provisions is reproduced below because it is useful for the implementation of the UNESCO and UNIDROIT Conventions.

Model Provisions

Selected Bibliography 

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE UNIFICATION OF PRIVATE LAW – Model provisions on State ownership of undiscovered cultural objects. Explanatory report with model provisions and explanatory guideline, in: La convención de la UNESCO de 1970, 2013, pp. 389-399.

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE UNIFICATION OF PRIVATE LAW – Model Provisions, Explanatory Report and Guidelines, in: Bulletin Kunst und Recht, 2013 (2/2013-1/2014), pp. 104-113.

European Parliament and Council Directive 2014/60/EU

The Directive 2014/60/EU of 15 May 2014, reproduced below, is a recast of Directive 93/7/EEC  (partially influenced by the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention) and adopts the same concept of “due diligence” introduced by the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention. It applies as from 19 December 2015.

Directive 2014/60/EU
The 2017 Council of Europe Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property

The Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property aims to prevent and combat the illicit trafficking and destruction of cultural property, in the framework of the Organisation’s action to fight terrorism and organised crime.

2017 CoE Convention