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The 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects is an international commercial agreement that provides a regulatory framework for the restitution and return of stolen and/or illegally exported cultural objects between two contract states.

Under the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention :

• Stolen or illegally excavated cultural objects shall be returned to the owners (nation, natural or legal persons). The good-faith buyer of such a cultural object has a claim to reasonable compensation to the extent that he can prove that he dealt with due care in buying the object.

• Cultural objects exported illicitly shall be restitute upon request by the country of origin if it can prove that the illegal export would have an essential impact on scientific or cultural interests or that the object is of essential cultural significance for the country of origin.

• The period of limitations on a claim for restitution or return basically amounts to three years relatively, i.e., since the knowledge of the cultural object’s location and possessor, and 50 years absolutely.

The regulations are self-executing (i.e., legal claims arise directly without the regulations having to be implemented into national law; the contract states thus operate on a unified basis regarding civil and administrative law) and is not retroactive (i.e., its regulations apply for each contract state only from the date of ratification).

The United States has not ratified the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention and thus is not a party to this agreement.


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