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Declaration on Jurisdictional Immunities of State Owned Cultural Property

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Jan Kohout and the Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Michael Spindelegger signed The Declaration on Jurisdictional Immunities of State Owned Cultural Property on 18 November, 2013.

This Declaration was elaborated as a legally non-binding document, reaffirming the rule of customary international law which implies that State-owned cultural property on public display in another State is protected against any form of seizure. The signatories of the Declaration also reaffirm their commitment to this rule of customary international law on State-owned cultural property in relation to any dispute that may arise in connection with cross-border loans of such property intended for public display.

The above-mentioned rule of customary international law has been already codified in the 2004 United Nation Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property, nevertheless this Convention has not entered into force yet.

The preparation of the Declaration was based on common experience of the Czech Republic and Austria from 2011 when several Czech cultural objects were seized by an Austrian Court, while on loan for a public display in Vienna, in response to a claim by the company Diag-Human. The Declaration aims to prevent the repetition of such situation and to increase the level of protection for cultural objects belonging to States while on cross-border loans for public display.

It is expected that other European countries will join this Declaration in the near future.

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