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.

At the 6th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Cultural Heritage held in 2015 in Namur, Ministers condemned ‘the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and the illicit trafficking of cultural property’ and decided to ‘reinforce European cooperation’ in this field, leading to a Committee of Ministers' decision to draft a new Convention.

The new Convention is being drawn up under the authority of the European Committee on Crime Problems and its specialised group working on offences relating to cultural property (PC-IBC). The CDCPP is also involved in the work.

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 new Convention will provide for wide-reaching preventive measures, both at domestic and international level (e.g. inventories or databases of cultural property; monitoring and reporting of transactions; import and export control procedures). It will seek to ensure transnational co-operation to stop the trade in so-called blood antiquities.

Three meetings of the PC-IBC have already taken place between May 2016 and January 2017, as well as specialist seminars in Strasbourg (13 January 2017) and Lucca (3-4 February 2017). A fourth meeting of the PC-IBC on 20-24 February 2017 is expected to conclude works on the Convention. Following further approval by the relevant Council of Europe bodies, the Convention is expected to be adopted at the Ministerial Session on 19 May in Nicosia, Cyprus.


 Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property