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Adoption of the resolution: "Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin"

On the 9th December the United Nations General Assembly adopted  resolution “Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin”, spearheaded by Greece, and supported by numerous Member States as co-sponsors.

The resolution is the main text adopted by the General Assembly, every 3 years, on the issue of illicit trafficking of cultural property and is largely based on UNESCO reports and engaged discussions by member states.

The new resolution recognizes the leading role of UNESCO in combating trafficking in cultural property, including its specific mandate within the context of the UN Security Council Resolution 2199, and encourages the Organization to continue to strengthen cooperation and synergies in this field with other international bodies.

The adopted resolution calls upon member states, that have not already done so, to ratify the UNESCO 1970 Convention, as well as the UNIDROIT 1995 Convention. Furthermore, it welcomes the establishment of the Operational Guidelines on the effective implementation of the Convention by States Parties.

It also touches upon the situation of culture in conflict, a key concern for the international community, as expressed in the preamble as well as in paragraphs 6, 11 and 13 of the Resolution. Furthermore, the resolution expresses deep concern to the continuing illicit trafficking in cultural property and its damage to the cultural heritage of nations, and commends UNESCO on the success of the #Unite4Heritage campaign.

Member States also expressed deep concern for cultural heritage, including religious sites and objects, which is increasingly being targeted by terrorist attacks, often resulting in damage, theft or complete destruction, and condemned such attacks.  

UNESCO’s continued efforts to enhance discussions with art market professionals in order to improve practices and raise awareness in such areas, such as provenance investigations, ethics, restitution procedures and knowledge of the international legal framework are well recognized.  

The UNESCO Director-General of UNESCO will submit a report on the implementation of the resolution to the General Assembly at its seventy third session.  

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