In the field of cultural heritage, the Council of Europe is currently working on a new Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, which will supersede the previous “Delphi” Convention of 1985.

The work is being carried out in close collaboration with various international organisations, including UNIDROIT, UNESCO, UNODC and the European Union.

The purpose as outlined in the new Convention is to prevent and combat the intentional destruction of, damage to, and trafficking in cultural property by strengthening criminal justice responses to all offences relating to cultural property while facilitating co-operation on an international level.

The new Convention is being drawn up under the authority of the European Committee on Crime Problems and its specialised group on offences relating to cultural property (PC-IBC). The group includes specialists from over forty member States, working together to draft a new criminal law convention that will sanction criminal behaviour and provide a unique international treaty.

The criminal law provisions contained in the draft Convention cover:

  • Theft and other forms of unlawful appropriation
  • Unlawful excavation and removal
  • Illegal exportation and illegal importation
  • Acquisition
  • Placing on the market
  • Falsification of documents
  • Destruction and damage

The Convention is expected to be adopted at the Ministerial Session in Nicosia in May 2017.


 Cultural property