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Red List of African Archaeological Objects

The looting of archaeological items and the destruction of archaeological sites in Africa are a cause of irreparable damage to African history and hence to the history of humankind. Whole sections of our history have been wiped out and can never be reconstituted. These objects cannot be understood once they have been removed from their archaeological context and divorced from the whole to which they belong. Only professional archaeological excavations can help recover their identity, their date and their location. But so long as there is demand from the international art market these objects will be looted and offered for sale.

In response of this urgent situation, a list of categories of African archaeological objects particularly at risk from looting was drawn up at the Workshop on the Protection of the African Cultural Heritage held in Amsterdam from 22 to 24 October 1997. Organised by ICOM (International Council of Museums), within the framework of its AFRICOM programme, it brought together professionals from African, European and North American museums to set up a common policy for fighting against the illicit traffic in African cultural property, and to promote regional and international agreements.

These objects are among the cultural goods most affected by looting and theft. They are protected by national legislation, banned from export, and may under no circumstances be put on sale.


An appeal is therefore being made to museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors to stop buying them.

This list is of objects which are particularly at risk, but in no way should it be considered exhaustive. The question of the legality of export arises with regard to any archaeological item.

 

Download the Red List of African Archaeological Objects in English and French 

 

 

Legislation

Nigeria
Nigerian Prohibition Law on non-exportation of antiquities, Government decrees of 1974 and 1979 (National Commission for Museums and Monuments Decree N° 77, 1979). 

UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, ratified by Nigeria on 24 January 1972, in force on 24 April 1972.

 

Mali

Law No. 85-40/AN-RM, of 26 July 1985 concerning the protection and the promotion of the national cultural heritage.

Decree No. 203/PG-RM of 13 August 1985 instituting a national commission for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage.

Decree No. 275/PG-RM of 4 November 1985 regulating archaeological excavations.

Decree No. 299/PG-RM of 19 September 1986 regulating the excavation, commercialization and export of cultural goods.
Law No. 86-61/AN-RM of 26 July 1986 concerning dealers in cultural goods.
UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, ratified by Mali on 9 April 1987, in force on 6 July 1987.

 

Niger

Law No. 97-022 of 30 June 1997 Relating to the Protection, Preservation and Enhancement of National Cultural Heritage, Decree No. 97-407/PRN/MCC/MESRT/IA of 10 November 1997.

UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, ratified by Niger on 16 October 1972, in force on 16 January 1973.

 

Burkina Faso
Ordinance No. 85-049/CNR/PRES of 29 August 1985 for the protection of cultural property.

Decree No. 85-493/ CNR/PRES/INFO of 29 August 1985 regulating the export of art objects in Burkina Faso. 
UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, ratified by Burkina Faso on 7 April 1987, in force on 7 July 1987.
UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or illegally exported cultural objects, signed by Burkina Faso, on adoption in Rome of the text of 24 June 1995.

Ghana Ghana National Museum Regulations, 1973, 26 March 1973.

 

Côte d'Ivoire
Law No. 87-806 of 28 July 1987 concerning the protection of the cultural heritage. 
UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, ratified by Côte d'Ivoire on 30 October 1990, in force on 30 January 1991. 
Undiroit Convention on Stolen or illegally exported cultural goods, signed by the Côte d'Ivoire, on adoption in Rome of the text of 24 June 1995.

 

Chad
Law No. 14-60 of 2 November 1960 for the protection of monuments and natural sites, sites and monuments of prehistoric, archaeological, scientific, artistic or picturesque character, the classification of historical or ethnographical objects and the regulation of excavations.

 

Cameroon
Federal Act No. 63-22 of 19 June 1963 arranging for the protection of monuments, objects and sites of historic or artistic interest. 
UNESCO Convention of 1970 on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, ratified by Cameroon on 24 May 1972, in force on 24 August 1972.