UNESCO strengthens its database on national laws for the protection of cultural heritage

Heritage Stewardship

UNESCO strengthens its database on national laws for the protection of cultural heritage
Since 2005 UNESCO has facilitated online access to its database on national legislation for the protection of cultural heritage—NATLAWS, an international, practical tool for combating the illicit traffic in cultural property. This database allows users, particularly lawyers and police, to search a nation’s laws and regulations by keywords, name, country, and year of publication, and contains crucial information such as contacts of national authorities responsible for the export of cultural goods or general information on the ministries responsible. It makes available legislation concerning movable and immovable cultural heritage as well as underwater and intangible cultural heritage among others, and also includes digitalized national legislation from UNESCO’s archives, transmitted by Member States since the 1950s.

In 2019 UNESCO began a project to update the NATLAWS database. This involved scanning all the existing documentation in high-definition, improving the quality of the documents and transforming its interface making it more accessible to users. A comprehensive index of cultural heritage laws has been created and an inventory of missing laws is now underway. This work was made possible thanks to financial support from Sweden and Switzerland .

The NATLAWS database currently includes 3022 laws, decrees and amendments tries, allowing users to easily access the title of the law, but also the content of the document. In addition to facilitating and broadening consultation of national cultural heritage laws, updating of the database also safeguards the institutional memory that these archives represent.

The NATLAWS database can be consulted by clicking here.