Carducci Art Law | Stolen, Looted, Illegally Exported, Objects, and Return, Restitution, Cultural Diplomacy
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Stolen, Looted, Illegally Exported, Objects, and Return, Restitution, Cultural Diplomacy

Return and restitution claims of art and cultural property have increased over the years as to property taken in both peace and armed conflict situations

Situations are as diverse as theft, illegal export and/or import, spoliation, looting, nationalization, expropriation, Nazi-looted art, other taking in breach of national, EU or international law


Professor Carducci can assist governments, public and private entities, by resolving disputes (as arbitrator or mediator) or providing expert  advice (as expert for legal opinions) or advice and party’s representation (as legal counsel) as to the complex legal matters in public and private international law, and the sensitive issues that such situations and claims raise between the Governments, museums, collectors, buyers, investors, or other parties, whether claimants or respondents, concerned

In this context Prof.Carducci has gained a rather unique international experience and legal expertise:

He has been in charge of the UNESCO 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 comprised of 22 States Parties)

He acted as UNESCO mediator with regard to the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum between the United Kingdom and the Greek Governments (within the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee) 

He has been responsible for managing and implementing worldwide in particular three multilateral treaties:

1) the 1954 First Protocol to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict, i.e. the only multilateral treaty addressing specifically return of cultural property displaced in relation to an armed conflict

Key issues : armed conflict, humanitarian law, property law, state responsibility, military necessity,  spoils of war, looting, restitution claims, public and private international law

States Parties : currently 103 (First Protocol, 1954)

2) the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

Key issues (currently for 128 States Parties): international trade in art, export certificates, illegal export, theft, restitution claims, property, public and private international law

3) the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which entails also provisions as to import and export of underwater cultural heritage

Key issues (currently for 50 States Parties): law of the sea, maritime law, salvage law, law of finds, protection of the underwater cultural heritage anywhere on the seabed, protection in situ, research and exploitation of shipwrecks

He has been legal expert and focal point for the intergovernmental negotiation (open to 192 Member States) of the UNESCO Draft Principles relating to Cultural Objects Displaced in Relation to the Second World War

Key issues: state responsibility, spoliations, looting, export, peace treaties, treaty and customary international law, conflict of laws, property law

He has published a leading treatise on international restitution and return claims of artifacts and cultural property, in comparative conflict of laws and including the UNESCO (1970) and the UNIDROIT (1995) Conventions, and various articles in public international law (treaty and customary), in private international law, in comparative property law

He is a legal expert in international public and private law of return and restitution (artefacts and cultural property), including of the UNESCO (1970) and the UNIDROIT (1995) Convention, and of the 1954 First Protocol to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict

He has a significant knowledge in international public and private law of return and restitution of property generally speaking, and is thus able to properly fill in possible gaps in “cultural” property law

He can act as mediator or conciliator, or in other  tailor-made roles in cultural diplomacy (between Governments, museums, foundations, artists, collectors)

For the sake of clarity, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, and then the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention (though with a difference), define “cultural property” as follows:

property which, on religious or secular grounds, is specifically designated by each State as being of importance for archaeology, prehistory, history, literature, art or science and which belongs to the following categories:

(a) Rare collections and specimens of fauna, flora, minerals and anatomy, and objects of paleontological interest;

(b) property relating to history, including the history of science and technology and military and social history, to the life of national leaders, thinkers, scientists and artist and to events of national importance;

(c) products of archaeological excavations (including regular and clandestine) or of archaeological discoveries ;

(d) elements of artistic or historical monuments or archaeological sites which have been dismembered;

(e) antiquities more than one hundred years old, such as inscriptions, coins and engraved seals;

(f) objects of ethnological interest;

(g) property of artistic interest, such as:

(i) pictures, paintings and drawings produced entirely by hand on any support and in any material (excluding industrial designs and manufactured articles decorated by hand);

(ii) original works of statuary art and sculpture in any material;

(iii) original engravings, prints and lithographs ;

(iv) original artistic assemblages and montages in any material;

(h) rare manuscripts and incunabula, old books, documents and publications of special interest (historical, artistic, scientific, literary, etc.) singly or in collections ;

(i) postage, revenue and similar stamps, singly or in collections;

(j) archives, including sound, photographic and cinematographic archives;

(k) articles of furniture more than one hundred years old and old musical instruments.