UNESCO Celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws

An information session about the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws took place at UNESCO Headquarters on 13 November 2015, on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of this Database.

Launched in 2005 and supported since then by the US Department of State, the Database is a unique international tool which permits a free, easy, multilingual and quick access to cultural heritage laws currently in force worldwide The Database is a real success story since it presents more than 2700 cultural laws from 188 Member States.

The panel was opened by the Director of the UNESCO Division for Heritage, Dr Mechtild Rössler,   who declared “The UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws is considered a very reliable tool against the illicit trafficking of archaeological objects, as it allows the user to know whether a cultural object benefits from legal protection in its country of origin or not”.

Presentations on the Database importance were made by representatives of Member States: H.E. Ambassador Jean-Frédéric Jauslin, Permanent Delegation of the Swiss Confederation to UNESCO and Ms. Maria Kouroupas, Director of the Cultural Heritage Center, US Department of State, as well as Maître Jean-Jacques Neuer, International corporate Lawyer and Ms. Marie Cornu, Research Supervisor, CNRS.

An update about the present status of the Database was also given by the UNESCO Secretariat for the 1970 Convention.

The panelists enhanced the important role of the Database in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property in the fields of search for provenance and the exercise of due diligence, preparation of case law, and for the information of the public at large on the protection of cultural heritage worldwide. They, therefore, called upon all UNESCO Member States to regularly update their cultural legislation published on the Database website and link it their own databases, websites and research centers.

This information session was made possible thanks to the generous financial contribution of the Swiss government (Federal Office for Culture).

For any questions regarding the update and submission of the Member States’ national cultural laws, please contact the Database Secretariat: s.al-tabbal@unesco.org.