UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen

   or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects
   In 1984, the challenges addressed in the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property were further taken up by another international organization, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, known by the acronym UNIDROIT, which issued the final draft of its "Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects" in June 1995. The UNIDROIT Convention is a complement to the UNESCO Convention. Perhaps the most important clause in the Convention is the principle that anyone with a stolen item in his/her possession must in all cases restore it. This rule forces buyers to check that the goods have come onto the market legally, otherwise they will have to be returned. As of 2003, forty countries have agreed to the UNIDROIT Convention. The UNIDROIT Convention remains controversial even among those who are eager to regulate international trade in antiquities, preserve and study them. Among the countries not agreeing are Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Generally dealers and collectors prefer looser regulation than countries which are the sources of antiquities, and many have effectively lobbied their governments in opposition to the UNIDROIT Convention.

Glossary of Art Terms. 2014.

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