The Council of Europe Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property was adopted on 3 May 2017 and came into force on 19 May 2017 (Council of Europe Treaty Series no. 221). The Treaty is open for signature by the member States and the non-member States which have participated in its elaboration and for accession by other non-member States.
The Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property aims to prevent and combat the illicit trafficking and destruction of cultural property, in the framework of the Organisation’s action to fight terrorism and organised crime.
The Convention, which will be open for signature to any country in the world, also aims to foster international co-operation to fight these crimes, which are destroying the world’s cultural heritage.
The Convention, which will be the only international treaty specifically dealing with the criminalisation of the illicit trafficking of cultural property, establishes a number of criminal offences, including theft; unlawful excavation, importation and exportation; and illegal acquisition and placing on the market. It also criminalises the falsification of documents and the destruction or damage of cultural property when committed intentionally.
The Convention has its focus on regulating all levels of the trade in cultural objects, including looters, traffickers, and end-of-the-chain art sellers and buyers.