Laws, directives, conventions, and guidelines in and for Europe

2016, Germany: Amendment for the protection of cultural heritage in Germany (PDF – Gesetz zum Schutz von Kulturgut)

2014, EU: Directive 2014/60/EU Of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 (Recast)

2013, ICOM: ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums

1995, EU: UNIDROIT convention

1993, EU: Directive 93/7/EEC of the Council of the European Union: it provides for the return of cultural objects that have been unlawfully removed from the territory of a member state of the European Union.

1992, Valetta: European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage 

1970, UNESCO: UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, 14 November 1970: signatory states undertake to prevent illegal trade in antiquities and art objects. Cultural property that unlawfully enters one of the signatory states must be returned.

UNESCO: UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws

Update for Latvia

Organisations, initiatives, or associations with a similar goal

Arbeitskreis Kulturgutschutz of the German DGUF (in German)

Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA): research and outreach organization which works to promote the study and research of art crime and cultural heritage protection.

Catalogue of Endangered Latvian Archaeological Artefacts: This catalogue is designed to aid in the identification of those Latvian archaeological artefacts, which are more frequently acquired illegally, illegally traded and exported outside the territory of Latvia.

Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities in the World’s Museums

ICOM – International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods

Looting matters: Discussion of the archaeological ethics surrounding the collecting of antiquities and archaeological material

The Illicit Antiquities Research Centre against the theft and traffic of archaeology. Established 1996, closing September 2007.

Trafficking Culture is an international research consortium that produces evidence-based research into the contemporary global trade in looted cultural objects.

SAFE shows why we must protect our shared cultural heritage and creates concrete ways for everyone to take action


Archaeologik by (German and English): special focus on the protection of cultural heritage and archaeology

Market of Mass Destruction by Neil Brodie (English):Commentary and opinion on the illicit trade in cultural objects

Illicit Cultural Property by Derek Fincham (English)

Anonymous Swiss Collector by Donna Yates (English)

Cultural Heritage Lawyer by Rick St. Hilaire (English): commentary and opinion about legal aspects and how to reduce on the legal side illicit trafficking of cultural goods

International Standards for describing Cultural Objects

Latvian e-service ‘Creation of description of Cultural Objects‘ for a voluntary and free of charge use by all owners and holders of the cultural objects.

Object-ID by ICOM (see the checklist in English here)


Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale

Interpol – illicit traffic in cultural heritage

Metropolitan Police, UK, Art and Antiques Unit