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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE BRIEFING: 15 OCTOBER 2002 ACCESSION OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE TWO UNESCO CONVENTIONS. Introduction 1. Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (the Hague Convention) of 1957.

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1. Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (the Hague Convention) of 1957.

2. Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Export and Transfer of the Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970.

1 2 hague convention brief historical overview
1.2 Hague ConventionBrief Historical Overview
  • Second World War and resultant massive destruction of human life and cultural property.
  • Convention and protocol adopted by an intergovernmental conference – UNESCO in the Hague in 1954.


  • Safeguard movable property of significance to the cultural heritage of peoples, irrespective of its origin or ownership.
  • Respect for property is an obligation both on the territorial state and on its enemies in time of armed conflict.
  • Signatories refrain from any use of cultural property – might lay it open to destruction and from any act of destruction.
  • Special protection for the refuges intended to shelter it.
  • Report every four years to the Director-General of UNESCO.


2.1 Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
  • Introduced in 1970.
  • Reaction to the appearance of numerous stolen/illegally exported works of art.
  • Adopted by the general conference in Paris on 14 November 1970 and came into force on April 1972.


  • Develop the principles and standards – transfer of ownership, import and export of cultural property.
  • The State Parties to the Convention undertake to adopt the necessary measures:

- To prevent museums within their territories from acquiring cultural property which has been illegally exported.

- To prohibit the import of cultural property stolen from a museum or a public institution after the entry into force of the Convention.

- At the request for the State of origin, to recover and return any such property stolen and imported.

  • This convention treats all international trade in illegally exported objects as illicit, i.e. it allows national law to characterise the transaction.


procession undertaken
Procession Undertaken

1. DFA obtained relevant information in 1995 from UNESCO.

2. Department of Justice and International Lawyers at DFA studied membership criteria and statutes.

3. Recommendations were then submitted to cabinet in 1998 and approved to be referred to parliament and to be accepted within the law.

4. Notion of motion was submitted to NCOP and National Assembly with explanatory memorandum.

5. On 18 April 2000 only one convention and ICCROM appeared on the Tabling document 58-2000. Parliament then agreed that due to a mistake the other convention was left out. This convention appeared on the Tabling document 122-2000 of 3 October 2000.

6. The Departmental official briefed the NCOP and it was accepted.

7. The minutes of the NCOP of 27 March 2001 order 13,14, 15 shows that it was adopted.

Continue -


8. It had to go to the National Assembly now. After various requests were made throughout 2001 and 2002 up to now, no progress was made. Parliament has now after Minister Mabandla has written a letter to Secretary of Parliament acknowledged that it was never put on the roll and that the documentation got lost. This letter was written in answer to a letter from Ambassador Skweyiya, the Permanent Representative of SA at UNESCO.

9. As soon as National Assembly adopts this and we have the minutes to prove that, it can be forwarded to DFA to prepare the ratification documents (formal declaration of accession) for signing by the Secretary-General for UNESCO in SA and the Minister Zuma.



1. SA is missing out because we are not a member of ICCROM.

2. Training opportunities abroad.

3. As a member state of UNESCO it is inappropriate that South Africa has not yet agreed to become one of the member states to the conventions and ICCROM.