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ICOM at the International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property 2012

The International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property 2012 was held from 16 to 17 October in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) was invited to participate along with approximately 170 other international experts participants in the field of the return of cultural property.

ICOM at the International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property 2012

The Conference, jointly organised by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) and the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea (CHA), had several aims:

  • Facilitate communication on this issue and enhance the domestic and international network among civil organisations, local governments and experts;
  • Examine various forms and cases of international cooperation for the return and restitution of cultural property and develop strategies providing an all-encompassing international framework that improves the existing systems;
  • Contribute to the discussion for countries that have lost cultural objects by sharing recent restitution cases and strategies, and foster discussion between stakeholders with varying interests.


In this context, ICOM had the chance to present its tools for fighting illicit traffic (thus preventing future restitution claims) and its Art and Cultural Heritage Mediation programme, which provides an alternative resolution particularly adapted to ownership disputes. The ICOM Mediation programme was included in the final recommendation of this two-day meeting as a way to seek “equitable solutions” for the return of cultural objects.