PARIS, 1970

Convention on Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

Before the 1970 UNESCO convention, the illegal trade of ancient artifacts was prevalent among the trade of drugs and weapons.

From 1964 onwards UNESCO, together with many state governments worked to improve national and international policies to preserve important historical and culturally significant objects.

The 1970 convention represents the first major result of those efforts.



Essential to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, prevention consists of the regular establishment of inventories and export certificates as well as the application of controls and approval of traders.

Moreover, it also stressed the necessity for the application of criminal or administrative sanctions and the organization of information and education campaigns.


The relevance of restitution is highlighted in Articles 7 and 13 of the convention:

For objects inventoried and stolen from a museum, public or religious monument, or a similar institution, article 7 paragraph (b) (ii), provides that States Parties should undertake appropriate measures to seize and return any cultural property stolen and imported. Article 13, states that parties are responsible at the national level in term of restitution and cooperation.


The fight against illicit trafficking cannot be effective without collaboration. Article 9 commits States Parties to participate in any international operation. It provides for the possibility of the negotiation of bilateral treaties, or the control of the export, import and international trade of cultural property.