This second edition of Lyndel Prott’s Commentary on the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects provides not only an article-by-article analysis of the Convention, but also takes account of the many positive developments in the practices of museums and States regarding re-evaluation of the status of objects in collections and, in some cases, return of those objects to their countries of origin. The Convention’s influence can be seen in the text of the 2014 EU Directive on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State, which, in its introductory paragraphs, calls on Member States of the European Union to consider ratification of both the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.
More recently, in France, the 2018 Report by Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy on the restitution of African heritage described the Convention as “the only legal instrument with the potential to redress the imbalance [between European ‘holding’ States and claimant States]” the ratification of which would “confirm the sustainability of returns”.
Lyndel Prott is a distinguished academic who has contributed to the drafting of numerous international conventions. She is former Director of UNESCO’s Division of Cultural Heritage and, as such, is particularly well placed to appreciate the difficulties of adopting and implementing a convention such as the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.