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“Return & Restitution” Intergovernmental Committee

On November 16th, 2023, Italy was re-elected to the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP) during the 42nd session of UNESCO’s General Conference.

The Committee is a non-binding legal instrument, established with resolution 20 C4 / 7.6 / 5 during the 20th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, which meets in ordinary plenary sessions at least once and not more than twice every other year.

In case a State needs to recover an important piece of cultural property, it can do so by contacting the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation.

The Committee is responsible, among others, of the following activities:

– researching appropriate means to facilitate bilateral negotiations for the restitution or the return of cultural property to their country of origin. In this respect, the Committee can also offer mediation and conciliation to other State Members;

– promoting of multilateral and bilateral cooperation for the restitution and the return of cultural property to their countries of origin;

– supporting the launch of research and studies programs in order to promote, inside museums or other institutions, the cultural property collections, to support good conservation practices and to encourage the necessary technical and scientific staff to follow professional training;

– reporting of its activities to UNESCO’s General Conference at each ordinary session.

The Committee acts as an advisory body that is responsible for the facilitation of bilateral negotiations. It does not hold decision-making powers over the cases submitted to them but is the creator of several practical instruments that allow better cultural heritage protection, such as awareness campaigns based on films, videos and publications; mediation and conciliation rules regarding conflicts linked to cultural heritage; measures that tackle online trafficking and the spreading of ethical codes to those who sell cultural property.

The Committee is composed is 22 State Members elected by UNESCO’s General Conference for a four-year period. Every other year, half of the Committee is renewed after the General Conference elections.

The Rules of procedure for Mediation and Conciliation have been established according to the fundamental principles of equity, impartiality and good faith, and are orientated towards the promotion of a way of resolving disputes linked to the restitution of cultural property that is as harmonious as equitable.