Committee on offences relating to cultural propertyThe Council of Europe has prepared a new criminal law convention to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property (CETS n°221). This form of trafficking is increasingly exploited by terrorist groups and is linked to international cross-border organised crime.

Recent events in Iraq and Syria have emphasised the vulnerability of historic and archaeological sites, with a deliberate destruction of humanity’s heritage threatening our democratic values, identity and memory. Trafficking in cultural property is a highly clandestine crime and a source for money laundering practices affecting all European countries.

The Terms of reference of the Committee on Offences relating to Cultural Property (PC-IBC) were adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 March 2016. Under the authority of the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), in close co-operation with the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP), the Committee prepared a draft Convention superseding and replacing the European Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property (ETS No.119, known as the “Delphi Convention”), as well as its draft Explanatory Report.

The PC-IBC met over a period of 6 months during 2016-2017 to draft the new convention. This pioneering Convention was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 3 May 2017 and opened for signature in Nicosia (Cyprus) on 19 May 2017.

PC-IBC family picture

Following its Terms of Reference, the PC-IBC shall ensure that the draft Convention deals, inter alia, with the following issues:

  • definition of cultural property
  • criminalisation of behaviour which has the potential to harm cultural property
  • criminalisation of illicit destruction of cultural property
  • criminalisation of trafficking in cultural property
  • prevention of offences relating to cultural property
  • international co-operation