Repatriation and Restitution of Cultural Property: Relevant Rules of International Law
The logical and legal link between appropriation and restitution of cultural properties is self-evident. If appropriation of the properties is illegal, there is an obligation to return them. Any State which is responsible of an internationally wrongful act is bound, first of all, to reestablish the situation that would have existed if the act had not occurred.
The question of restitution of cultural properties (A distinction is sometimes made today between “return,” used in a general sense, and “restitution,” used for stolen or illegally exported properties. The term “repatriation” is also used. But such questions of terminology do not seem important.) is the subject matter of a number of international treaties which have a world scope of application. Their main provisions can today be considered as belonging also to customary international law. The trend toward the restitution is growing, as the result of the application of principles having also a moral and cultural...
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