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April 2017

Cultural Heritage Assets


Cultural Heritage Assets

During its most recent regular session (March 2017), the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI) adopted a resolution on Cultural Heritage Assets in response to a mandate from the General Assembly requesting it to analyze the existing legal instruments on the matter in order to strengthen the inter-American legal system in this area.

The Committee’s resolution called upon those member states that have not yet done so to ratify the various treaties on the subject, in particular the 1976 Convention on the Protection of the Archeological, Historical, and Artistic Heritage of the American Nations (San Salvador Convention). It also urged Member States to establish appropriate cooperation mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the obligations arising from existing instruments and to strengthen their national legislation in accordance with the standards established therein.

With regard to cultural assets, the Committee’s report analyzes regional and universal legal instruments, proposes further development of national legislation, and invites member states to develop cooperation mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of existing instruments, in particular the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the San Salvador Convention. It also proposes the development of a “User's Guide” on implementing conventional and soft-law instruments, including the design of strategies for the recovery and restitution of cultural assets.

The protection of cultural property has global dimensions because illicit transfer of these goods occurs between continents. At the same time, it is important to highlight the importance that this protection represents for the countries of our Hemisphere in particular.

Together with the aforementioned resolution, the CJI approved a report that analyses legal instruments on the protection of cultural heritage assets at the global and regional levels, the current status of the rules in force, and recommendations to bolster the inter-American legal framework.

The CJI also took into account a document prepared by the OAS Department of International Law (Secretariat for Legal Affairs), which serves as the Technical Secretariat.

Both the resolution and the report of the CJI were transmitted to the Permanent Council of the OAS for its consideration on March 23, 2017.  

» To see the text of the resolution on “Cultural Heritage Assets,” document CJI/RES.233 (XCI-O/17) March 9, 2017 click here

» To see the report on “Cultural Heritage Assets,” document CJI/doc.527/17 rev.2 March 9, 2017 click here

» To see the text of the 1976 Convention on the Protection of the Archeological, Historical, and Artistic Heritage of the American Nations click here

For further information on this matter, please contact the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the OAS +1 202 370-0741. 

» For additional information about the Department, please visit our Website

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