The Convention was adopted by UNESCO in 1970 to protect the cultural property existing within the territories of States against the dangers of theft, clandestine excavation, and illicit export. It entered into force in 1972.
The Convention requires its States Parties to take action in three main fields:
1- Preventive measures: inventories, export certificates, monitoring trade, imposition of penal or administrative sanctions, educational campaigns, etc.
2- Restitution provisions: Per Article 7 (b) (ii) of the Convention, States Parties undertake, at the request of the State Party “of origin,” to take appropriate steps to recover and return any such cultural property imported after the entry into force of the Convention in both States concerned, provided, however, that the requesting State shall pay just compensation to an innocent purchaser or to a person who has valid title to that property. More indirectly and subject to domestic legislation, Article 13 of the Convention also provides provisions on restitution and cooperation.
3- International cooperation framework: The idea of strengthening cooperation among and between States Parties is present throughout the Convention. In cases where cultural patrimony is in jeopardy from pillage, Article 9 provides a possibility for more specific undertakings such as a call for import and export controls.