Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Robert Kirkwood Paterson

This Handbook offers a collection of original writings by leading scholars and practitioners in the exciting, rapidly developing field of cultural heritage law. The detailed essays are the product of a multi-year project of the Committee on Cultural Heritage Law of the International Law Association.

Chapter 4: Canada

Robert Kirkwood Paterson

Subjects: law - academic, cultural heritage and art law, international economic law, trade law


In terms of the movement of cultural property across its borders Canada has the characteristics of a source state, a market state and a transit state. It is a source state especially in respect of recently excavated or discovered objects of Canada's first peoples. It is a market state, in terms of the museums and private collectors who purchase objects on world markets. Finally, it is a transit state because of its geographical borders with the United States - still the world's largest market for cultural property. Despite these factors, Canada did not enact controls on the removal of cultural property to outside its borders, or recognize and enforce similar laws of other countries, until 1977. Canadian controls on the export of cultural property are established by a federal statute called the Cultural Property Export and Import Act which passed into law on September 6, 1977, just before Canada became a party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Act also represents the implementation of 1970 UNESCO into Canadian domestic law along with the 1954 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its protocols. This means that Canadian cultural property export and import controls are both contained in the same statute.

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