Laws, Conventions, and Agreements


U.S. Legislation, International Conventions, and other Regulations

U.S. Legislation

The 1983 Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 USC 2601 et seq. (PDF) or Public Law 97-446 (PDF)). Referred to herein as "the Act" or CPIA, this U.S. statute implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention. (NB: Functions delegated in the Act to the Director of the former U.S. Information Agency were transferred to the Secretary of State by the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998). Read the Act in Spanish, (PDF) Arabic (PDF) and French (PDF). Executive Order 12555 (1986) (PDF) delegates certain authorities for the Act. U.S. Senate Report 97-564 (PDF) provides background on the intent of the Act.

Pre-Columbian Monumental and Architectural Sculpture and Murals Statute (PDF) (1973) (Public Law 92-587). Restricts imports of these materials into the U.S. without authorization from the country of origin.

Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2004 (PDF)

Iraqi Sanctions Regulations (PDF) Title 31 Part 575 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (May 23, 2003). The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a General License lifting most of the sanctions against Iraq. Restrictions were retained on any transactions involving Iraqi cultural property since August 6, 1990. Any trade in or transfer of such items remains prohibited by subpart B of 31 CFR part 575. Please refer also to the UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (PDF), regarding Iraq, published 22 May 2003.

Archaeological Resources Protection Act (PDF) Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (PDF) Abandoned Shipwreck Act (PDF) National Stolen Property Act (PDF)


International Conventions

Conventions to which the U.S. is party:

1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (The Hague Convention) (States party to the 1954 Convention): The U.S. became a party to this convention on 13 March 2009, when it deposited its instrument of ratification at UNESCO.

1970 Treaty between the U.S. and Mexico (PDF)

1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Background on this Convention) (States party to the 1970 Convention)

1972 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage: Establishes framework for international cooperation in conservation of world heritage sites, primarily with monuments, buildings, and archaeological sites. (States party to the 1972 Convention.) (Current listing of World Heritage Sites.)

1981 Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Peru for the Recovery and Return of Stolen Archaeological, Historical, and Cultural Properties (PDF)

1984 Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Guatemala for the Recovery and Return of Stolen Archaeological, Historical, and Cultural Properties (PDF)

Conventions to which the U.S. is not party:

1976 OAS Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological, Historical, and Artistic Heritage of the American Nations (PDF) (Convention of San Salvador)

1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects: Establishes common legal rules for the restitution and return of cultural objects between State Parties to the convention. (States party to the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.)

2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (States party to the 2001 Convention)


Other Related Regulations

European Union Directive on the Return of Cultural Objects: Guides the return of national treasures of artistic, historic, or archaeological value that have been unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State of the European Union.

European Union Regulation (#3911/92) on the Export of Cultural Goods (PDF): Ensures that exports of cultural goods are subject to uniform controls at the community's external borders.