Thursday, April 30, 2009

Belgium Ratifies the 1970 UNESCO Convention

Last month, Belgium became the 117th country to ratify the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.  The Convention will enter into force for Belgium on June 30, 2009.  Belgium is one of a growing number of European antiquities-market countries that have taken steps toward restricting the movement of looted antiquities through their borders – Norway ratified the Convention in 2007, Germany ratified the Convention and passed implementing legislation in 2007, and the Netherlands is considering a bill that would ratify and implement both the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. 

Belgium’s instrument of ratification limits the definition of “cultural property” under the Convention to the terms of the “Annex to Council Regulation (EEC) No 3911/92 of 9 December 1992, as amended, on the export of cultural goods and in the Annex to Council Directive 93/7/EEC of 15 March 1993, as amended, on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State.”  At this time, there is no further information available as to how Belgium will implement the Convention.