Assembly calls for steps to combat illicit traffic in cultural property
Reaffirming that the restitution of cultural or artistic treasures to their countries of origin served to strengthen international co-operation and preserve "universal cultural values", the General Assembly on 21 November called on States to pursue bilateral agreements in that area, to prepare inventories of their cultural property, and to adopt or strengthen the necessary protective legislation with regard to their own heritage and that of other peoples.
By resolution 40/19, adopted by a vote of 123-0-15, the Assembly also invited Member States engaged in seeking the recovery of cultural and artistic treasures from the sea-bed, in accordance with international law, to facilitate by mutually acceptable conditions the participation of States that had a historical and cultural link with those treasures.
The Assembly endorsed the opinion expressed at the World Conference on Cultural Policies, held in Mexico City in 1982, that the return of cultural property to its country of origin should be accompanied by the training of key personnel and technicians and the provision of the necessary facilities for the satisfactory conservation and presentation of the property restored.
Member States were also invited to sign and ratify the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
Report: Annexed to the Secretary-General's 21 June 1985 report (A/40/344) was a 1 May 1985 report of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), noting that the inventory of African cultural property outside Africa, entrusted in 1981 to the International Council of Museums (a Paris-based non-governmental organization), had progressed to the completion of 20,000 entries. The Pacific region had built up the most thorough documentation of its dispersed cultural heritage held in other regions, the report stated.
Following the deposit by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Senegal and the United States of their instruments of ratification or acceptance of the 1970 Convention, the number of States parties to it had risen to 55, the report stated. In addition, the ratification process was said to be well advanced in Australia, France and the Netherlands.
Also detailed in the report were recommendations adopted at the most recent session of UNESCO's...