Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade
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Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

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.
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Chapter 17: Sweden

Thomas Adlercreutz


As a member of the World Trade Organization, Sweden can rely on the exception from the prohibition on quantitative restrictions for "national treasures" in Article XX(f) of GATT 1994. Sweden has been a party to GATT/WTO since 1950 and 1995 respectively. Sweden ratified the 1970 UNESCO Convention in 2003, with a declaration, but without implementing legislation. The Swedish ratification of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention gained legal force on 1 December 2011 and enacted implementing domestic legislation which will be discussed in the second half of this chapter. Sweden has been a member state of the European Union (formerly the European Community) since 1995 and is bound by Council Regulation (EC) No. 116/2009 (formerly (EEC) No. 3911/92) on the Export of Cultural Goods, as well as Council Directive 93/7/EEC. There is no reference to cultural heritage in the Swedish constitution and Sweden has no bilateral cultural property agreements with other countries. Sweden has sometimes returned cultural material belonging to the Swedish state to countries of origin, usually after parliamentary approval. Export controls affecting cultural material have been in force since 1927. As regards archaeological objects and sites Sweden's heritage laws date back to the seventeenth century. However, the legislative scheme then introduced aimed to afford in situ protection, and had no provisions on monitoring at the borders. In a governmental investigative report published in 1922, it was proposed that particularly important cultural objects should be registered by the government, and thereby rendered non-exportable.

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