The International Council of Museums works for society and its development. It is committed to ensuring the conservation, and protection of cultural goods.
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Red List

The Red Lists classify the endangered categories of archaeological objects or works of art in the most vulnerable areas of the world, in order to prevent them being sold or illegally exported.




The Red Lists therefore contributes to the protection of cultural heritage in the relevant countries.


ICOM has already published Red Lists for many different countries and regions:

  • Red List of African Archaeological Objects, 2000
  • Red List of Latin American Cultural Objects at Risk 2003
  • Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk, 2003
  • Red List of Afghanistan Antiquities at Risk, 2006
  • Red List of Peruvian Antiquities at Risk, 2007
  • Red List of Cambodian Antiquities at Risk, 2009
  • Red List of Endangered Cultural Objects of Central America and Mexico, 2009
  • Emergency Red List of Haitian Cultural Objects at Risk, 2010
  • Red List of Chinese Cultural Objects at Risk, 2010
  • Red List of Colombian Cultural Objects at Risk, 2010
  • Emergency Red List of Egyptian Cultural Objects at Risk, 2011
  • Red List of Dominican Cultural Objects at Risk 2013
  • Emergency Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk 2013

Red Lists Database

Red List success stories

Thanks to the ICOM Red Lists, law enforcement officials have seized many cultural goods.

Some examples:

  • In January 2006, an Iraqi foundation nail was identified during an auction in Drouot (Paris). After the UNESCO Iraq standing delegation complained, the Parisian legal prosecutor carried out an investigation.   
  • In March 2006, more than 6,000 artefacts stolen from archaeological sites in Niger and seized by French customs officials in 2004 and 2005 were returned to their country of origin.
  • In 2008, a cuneiform table was identified on the Swiss platform of auctioning site e-Bay. Swiss authorities were informed and e-Bay was able to stop the auction just in time.
  • In 2008, French customs officials seized crates stamped “craftwork” which came from Togo and contained Nigerian artefacts. ICOM approached a specialist to appraise the objects, one of which was revealed through thermoluminescence testing to be a genuine Nok statuette. The steps required to restore the object to Nigeria are currently being undertaken.