New project to study Unidroit Convention on return of cultural objects

Posted on: October 30, 2017 by

On 27 October 2017, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law – hereinafter Unidroit – officially launched the 1995 Unidroit Convention Academic Project (UCAP). The project – which was first announced during a special event on “Promoting and Strengthening the international legal framework for the protection of cultural heritage” held on 28 February 2017 in New York – was established to provide support to the informal Task Force to promote the ratification of the Unidroit Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995).

This academic endeavour is the follow-up of two important gatherings on the practical application of the convention, namely the first Special Committee to Review the Practical Operation of the 1995 Convention, which took place in June 2012 in Paris and the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the convention held in May 2015 in Rome.

Following Unidroit, the objectives of the project are: “[…] to assist scholars, students, practising lawyers, judges, other government officials, as well as art market players, such as art collectors, dealers, auction houses and museums by providing information about the Convention.”

Therefore, recognizing the important role that education plays in countering the illicit trafficking of cultural property, the project is primarily meant to raise and increase awareness and knowledge as to the role of the 1995 convention in regulating the demand for cultural objects. Inter alia, UCAP intends to touch upon the following aspects of the convention: art collections, the payment of fair and reasonable compensation, the definition of cultural objects, due diligence, export laws, questions of jurisdiction and applicable law and time limitations of claims in restitution of stolen cultural objects and requests in return of illegally exported cultural objects. What is more, UCAP aims at promoting research on cultural heritage law and at linking these various researches, universities or other entities holding curricula on cultural heritage law together to foster knowledge about the convention.

The findings of the project will be presented annually at a conference – to be hosted in turn by leading partner universities – and will feed the discussions of the informal Task Force. Members of the academic community are cordially invited to consider participation in UCAP.

More information about the project can be found here.