UNODC mandates on illicit trafficking in cultural property

In addition to the work of the ad hoc open-ended intergovernmental expert group on protection against trafficking in cultural property , reporting to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, it is important to refer to the Salvador Declaration, as a result of the 12th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held in April 2010. Paragraph 9 of that Declaration urged States to develop effective legislation to prevent, prosecute and punish this crime in any of its forms and to strengthen international cooperation and technical assistance in this area (including the recovery and return of cultural property), bearing in mind relevant international instruments, including the Organized Crime Convention where appropriate.

The 13 th Crime Congress, held in April 2015, adopted the Doha Declaration, in which States declare that they would strive "to strengthen and implement comprehensive crime prevention and criminal justice responses to illicit trafficking in cultural property, for the purpose of providing the widest possible international cooperation to address such crime, to review and strengthen domestic legislation to counter trafficking in cultural property, where appropriate, in accordance with our commitments under international instruments, including, as appropriate, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970, and taking into consideration the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences, to continue to gather and share information and statistical data on trafficking in cultural property, in particular on trafficking that involves organized criminal groups and terrorist organizations, and to further consider the potential utility of and improvements to the model treaty for the prevention of crimesthat infringe on the cultural heritage of people in the form of movable property, and international standards and norms in this field, in close cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the International Criminal Police Organization and other competent international organizations, with a view to ensuring coordination of efforts in fulfilment of their respective mandates" (paragraph 9(c)).

In October 2010, during the fifth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Secretariat provided a discussion note on the use of the Organized Crime Convention for the protection against trafficking in cultural property. The Conference of the Parties adopted resolution 5/7 , entitled "Combating transnational organized crime against cultural property", in which it urges States parties to use the Organized Crime Convention for broad cooperation in preventing and combating criminal offences against cultural property, especially in returning such proceeds of crime or property to their legitimate owners, in accordance with article 14, paragraph 2, of the Convention.

Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 66/180 and resolution 2010/19 of the Economic and Social Council, UNODC developed draft specific guidelines on crime prevention and criminal justice responses to assist States in better fighting against trafficking in cultural property.

Furthermore, in its resolution 68/186, entitled "Strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking", the General Assembly requested the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to reconvene the intergovernmental expert group on protection against trafficking in cultural property, for Member States to review and revise the draft guidelines, taking into account an updated compendium from the Secretariat of comments made by Member States, with a view to finalizing the guidelines. In line with this resolution, the  third meeting of the expert group was held from 15 to 17 January 2014, and the guidelines were submitted to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at its twenty-third session.

Upon recommendation of the Commission, the General Assembly adopted the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice with respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences, in its resolution 69/196, underlining that the Guidelines represent a useful framework to guide Member States in the development and strengthening of their criminal justice policies, strategies, legislation and cooperation mechanisms in the area of protection against trafficking in cultural property and other related offences.

The following documentation provides for a comprehensive perspective of mandates received by UNODC in this area:


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General Assembly Resolution 69/196

International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice with respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences pdf pdf   pdf pdf pdf   pdf

General Assembly Resolution 68/186

Strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking

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Resolution 6/1,  paragraph 14, of the Conference of Parties to the Organized Crime Convention, contained in CTOC/COP/2012/15

Ensuring effective implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto

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General Assembly Resolution 66/180

Strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking

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Resolution 5/7 of the Conference of Parties to the Organized Crime Convention, contained in CTOC/COP/2010/17

Combating transnational organized crime against cultural property

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ECOSOC Resolution 2010/19

Crime prevention and criminal justice responses to protect cultural property, especially with regard to its trafficking

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ECOSOC Resolution 2008/23

Protection against trafficking in cultural property

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ECOSOC Resolution 2004/34

Protection against trafficking in cultural property

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