Operational Guidelines

It is necessary to learn from the best practices of the States Parties to guide the implementation of the 1970 Convention. Operational Guidelines best reinforce the 1970 Convention by identifying the best means of achieving the objectives of the Convention. The third Meeting of States Parties (18-20 May 2015) adopted Operational Guidelines by Resolution 3.MSP 11.

Table of contents


Purpose of these Guidelines

Purpose of the Convention

Definition of cultural property for the purposes of the Convention (Article 1)

Fundamental principles of the Convention (Articles 2; 3)

Link between heritage and State (Article 4)

National services for the protection of cultural heritage (Articles 5; 13 (a, b); 14)

  • Legislation (Article 5(a))

  • Inventories, inalienability and State ownership (Article 5(b))

  • Expert institutions (Article 5(c))

  • Archeology and protected areas (Article 5(d))

  • Rules in conformity with the ethical principles set forth in the Convention (Article 5(e))

  • Education (Articles 5(f); 10)

  • Publicizing the disappearance of cultural objects (Article 5(g))

Prohibition and prevention of illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property (Articles 6; 7(a, b(i)); 8; 10(a); 13(a))

  • Export certificates (Article 6(a, b))

  • Prohibition of importing stolen cultural property (Article 7(b)(i)

  • Penalties and administrative sanctions (Articles 6(b), 7(b); 8))

  • Sales on Internet

  • Sales in auction

  • Preventing transfers of ownership likely to promote illicit import or export, controlling trade by registers, and establishment of rules in conformity with ethical principles (Articles 13(a); 10(a); 7(a); 5(e))

Cooperation on recovery and return of cultural property (Articles 7(b)(ii); 13(b, c, d); 15)

  • Request of State Party (article 7(b)(ii))

  • Evidence to establish a claim (article 7(b)(ii))

  • Just compensation and due diligence (Article 7(b)(ii))

  • Cooperation for earliest possible restitution (Article 13(b))

  • Admission of legal actions for recovery of lost or stolen cultural property (Article 13(c))

  • Non-retroactivity of the 1970 Convention, entry into force of the Convention and resolution of claims (Article 17)

  • Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP)

Pillage of archaeological and ethnological materials (Article 9)

Occupation (Article 11)

Special agreements (Article 15)

Reports by States Parties (Article 16)

Secretariat to the 1970 Convention and to the Subsidiary Committee (Article 17)

States Parties to the 1970 Convention (Articles 20; 24)


Cooperating partners in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property

Conventions relating to the protection of cultural property

List of proposed annexes