Ethical standards / Codes of ethics

Ethical considerations are at the core of the condemnation of illicit traffic in cultural goods.



Ethics are the expression of moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.

The notion of a code of ethics often overlaps with that of a “code of conduct”. A code of ethics is a written set of fundamental principles, guidelines or rules, formulated by or for a group of individuals or organisations with a common purpose: to improve the behaviour and public service functions provided by the group and its stature within the society its serves. Inspired by moral principles, such a text provides guidance in cases where no specific rule is in place or where matters are genuinely unclear.


The scope of ethics

Cultural heritage law has been developed over time, but has been preceded by the moral dimension. As far back as the turn of the 19th century, looting carried out during the Napoleonic campaigns was criticised by number of European intellectuals. Ethics and law do not always overlap, but rather can complement one another in working towards the common goal of preventing the theft and illegal exportation of cultural objects.

In the absence of specialised legislation, the sensitive role of heritage professionals with regard to cultural property may require the drafting of sets of professional standards. Starting from the early 1960s, the field of conservation has been concerned with establishing ethical norms. Over the years, a number of national initiatives have appeared. Today, these include various codes that address various matters, used in a wide range of contexts within the cultural heritage sector.

Drafted in a “horizontal manner”, for and by the professionals based on the principle of self-regulation, ethical rules are the result of a professional consensus. These standards come from a variety of sources: international organisations, NGOs, specialised institutions and trade associations.

They are restricted to the persons represented by these bodies, and can sometimes be linked to the latter’s statutory standards. They target a wide variety of professional areas: archaeologists, archivists, art historians, booksellers, curators, dealers, restorers, volunteers, etc.


The use of codes of ethics

Codes of ethics are normative frameworks under which professionals commit to operate.  Their primary role is thus the “regulation” professional activities, the establishment of rules and customs.

In the long term, good practices and initiatives are fuelling the development of ethical standards. In return, their promotion and use advocate these good practices and shape both public and professional opinions. Therefore, while wielding no legal power in and of themselves, these standards exert substantial influence on the international circulation of cultural objects. In this regard, NGOs and professional organisations play an important role in the development of ethics.

Some professional organisations have created specialised committees in order to support the enforcement of their codes, particularly in the museum world. ICOM has its own permanent Ethics Committee, as does its Swiss National Committee. These ethics committees even exist at the local level, as is the case in the city of Geneva. In the Netherlands, an Ethics Commission advises museums on issues relating to the ICOM Code of Ethics. Similarly, the Ethics Committee established by the Dutch Ethnological Museums advises ethnological museums in the country on issues of ethics, notably pertaining to the acquisition of goods.

The non-compliance of heritage professionals to their ethical obligations remains a problem within the sector. The violation of a code of ethics constitutes a violation of the regulatory framework to which the members of the organisation are subject, and rarely lead to sanctions. The UNESCO International Code of Ethics for Dealers in Cultural Property does mention sanctions, and a body in charge of receiving complaints of non-compliance. The statutes of the International Council of Museums provide for the termination of membership in the event of a breach of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums.

However, such sanctions are actually rarely applied, and oftentimes, there is no set procedure to follow. Nevertheless, the negative effects (bad publicity, loss of professional reputation) arising from a breach of these codes imbue them with real authority.

Given its “para-legal” mandate, ethics can be compared to a “soft law”, although its principles are often stricter, and actually often comply with the principles of the main international legal instruments.

Codes of ethics often end up inspiring the development of law. Contracts may be drafted with obligations based on principles set forth in codes of ethics, and those principles are used as references to evaluate professional behaviours in legal cases, thus considered as customary practices with indirect effect on legislation.

In some countries, ethical codes are even directly transposed into the national legislation. Several EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal) have transposed provisions of the ICOM Code of Ethics into their national law. In other countries, such as the Netherlands, compliance with the code has an impact on the legal status of the institution.


The issues addressed

Codes of professional ethics address a wide range of issues related to the circulation of cultural property, and thus, the illicit traffic in cultural goods. These issues can be ranked into two categories: collections management and professional conduct.

Collection Management  

Professional conduct

Acquisition policy




Protection and disposal of collections

Return and Restitution

Search of provenance and due diligence

Sharing of information and collections


Compliance with legislation

Conflict of interest

Criminal association

Direct or indirect participation in the traffic

Moral and individual responsibilities

Retention of information


Suppression of information


Provisions given in the main international codes

Collection management


Professional conduct

Association of International Antiquities Dealer (AIAD)
Code of Conduct

-4.Provenance- The Member agrees to maintain full and accurate records of relevant sales and purchases. Provenance of any item offered for sale is to be established to the extent that this is reasonably achievable, and the description thereof is to be as full and accurate as possible.

-5- The Member agrees not knowingly to sell stolen items, fakes or forgeries nor to pass off as genuine items which have been restored, repaired or otherwise altered without clearly describing them as such. The Member agrees to take all reasonable steps to ensure that he has legal title to any item offered for sale.


-2.General- The Member agrees to conduct his business at all times with due regard to all pertinent current legislation and with utmost good faith.

-3- Breach of the terms of this Code may result in the expulsion of the Member.

-6.Provenance- The Member agrees to apply for all relevant legal permissions in respect of the supply of any item, including but not limited to export permits where applicable.

Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD)
Code of Ethics

Members agree to provide accurate descriptions of photographs in all disclosures, including but not limited to, invoices, wall labels and price lists. All descriptions shall include the following:

- Artist
- Title/ Subject
- Process
- Date of negative
- Date of print
- Price


Members agree to conduct dealings with the public, museums, artists and other dealers with honesty and integrity.

College Art Association (CAA)
Standards for the Practice of Art History

-2.Research and Publishing/ A.Rights of Access to Information and Responsibilities of Art Historians/ 5- […] excavators and their assignees have the duty to publish with reasonable promptness the materials in their charge and to make such materials freely accessible to other art historians for study […]

-2/ B.Acknowledgement of Sources and Assistance/ 2- It is, however, the responsibility of art historians working in the living art traditions to deposit original or copies of all field data related to said publications—documented photographs, films, video and audio tapes, and the like—in appropriate institutions in the host community in which they have worked.

-2/ C.The Illegal Traffic in Works of Art and Responsibilities of Art Historians to Discourage Illegal Traffic in Works of Art/ 1- […] the governing body of a museum should promulgate an appropriate acquisition policy statement commensurate with its by-laws and operational procedures, taking into consideration the International Council of Museums’ recommendations on “Ethics of Acquisition.”

-2/ D.Authentication- It is recommended that an opinion on authentication or attribution not be offered unless the owner of the work provides sufficient scholarly research and technical evidence to support the opinion. […] It is unethical for a museum to organize or sponsor an exhibition of artworks as to which the authenticity or attribution is open to question unless the doubts are clearly indicated or the exhibition is openly devoted to assist in the determination of attributions or to presenting forgeries or misattributions.


-2.Research and Publishing/ A.Rights of Access to Information and Responsibilities of Art Historians/ 1- An art historian has the moral obligation to share the discovery of primary source material with his or her colleagues and serious students.

-2/ C.The Illegal Traffic in Works of Art and Responsibilities of Art Historians to Discourage Illegal Traffic in Works of Art/ 1- The College Art Association hereby expresses its condemnation of illicit or otherwise questionable practices in the obtaining of archaeological, artistic, and ethnic objects, whether these are by theft, excavation, export, trade, or the wrongful seizure from legitimate owners due to war, insurrection, or civil disturbance. […] the College Art Association discourages practices or procedures that might be construed as giving sanction to the acquisition, trade, and financial enhancement of cultural artifacts inappropriately excavated, collected, or appropriated. […] Museums can henceforth best implement such cooperation by refusing to acquire through purchase, gift, or bequest cultural property exported in violation of the laws obtaining in the countries of origin. […]the governing bodies, directors and curators of Museums should, in determining the propriety of acquiring cultural property, support and be guided by the policies of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Export, Import and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the implementing provisions adopted by the signatory states.

-2/ D.Authentication- It is unethical for an art historian to provide an opinion of a known fake or forgery that affirms the legitimacy of its authenticity or attribution.

-4.Museum and Other Art-Historical Consulting/ C.Commercial Services and Privileges/ 2.Acceptance of Gifts and Requesting of Commercial Privileges/ d- Generally, art historians should not accept gifts from art dealers, even if there is a long and personal friendship. […] Even to accept price reductions as a “professional courtesy” from a dealer is, strictly speaking, unethical, as it places the art historian in the dealer’s debt. 

International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA)
Rules of the IADAA

-1- The members of IADAA undertake to the best of their ability to make their purchases in good faith.

-2- The members of IADAA undertake not to purchase or sell objects until they have established to the best of their ability that such objects were not stolen from excavations, architectural monuments, public institutions or private property.

-5- The members of IADAA undertake to the best of their ability to keep photographic records prior to repair and restoration, to be honest and open by describing in writing the amount of repair and restoration undertaken to a prospective purchaser.

-6- Members guarantee the authenticity of all objects they offer for sale.

-8- It is a condition of membership that all members undertake to check items which are to be sold at a price of € 5,000 or over (or local currency equivalent) with the Art Loss Register or with a stolen art register which is recognised by the Board, unless the item has already been checked.


-7- Members of IADAA undertake to the best of their ability to inform the Administrative Board about stolen goods and thefts. They also undertake to co-operate with international and national agencies involved with the recovery of stolen goods.

-9- IADAA condemns illegal use of metal detectors.

International Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History (NATHIST)
ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums

-1.Human Remains/ A- Institutions displaying or storing human remains must always observe the following standards: Any legislation, both local and international, governing the use and display of human remains.

-1/ G- Repatriation is appropriate where objects still confer a spiritual and/or cultural significance, or where they can be irrefutably demonstrated as being stolen. All material being considered for repatriation, even unprovenanced material, must be properly documented with respect to the repatriation process. Any repatriation that does take place must be undertaken with the full knowledge and agreement of all interested parties and comply with the legislative and institutional requirements of all parties involved.

-2.Specimens of Other Extant and Recent Organisms, Including Invertebrates and Plants/ A- […] If material is acquired and subsequently discovered to have been collected illegally, the relevant authorities should be informed and further steps be taken as required by the country or countries involved. If more than one institution is involved, refer to the ICOM Code 6.2, which states that, if possible, dialogue should be established between museums in preference to government or political action.

-3.Rocks, Minerals and Fossils/ B- Geological material sold to the public under the aegis of museums should be acquired only from recognized sources or suppliers […]

-3/ D- Institutions that collect or purchase minerals, rocks or fossils for display or research purposes should ensure this is done following the legislation of the source country and of their own country. Guidance in Section 2 of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums should be followed whether or not such legislation exists.

-4.Collecting and Restitution/ A- If permits are required for the collection or export of material these should be sourced and any associated ground rules established prior to a research trip being undertaken. Collectors should follow policy and legislation for collecting both in the locality in which the collection is made and in the locality in which the museum is based.

-4/ B- Institutions and individual members should ensure, wherever possible, that information gathered in the field is made available at the earliest opportunity to the relevant authorities or institution within the country in which the material is collected.

-4/ D- If material is already held outside its country of origin, whereupon ‘value’ is added (Ref Section 4.c above), it shall be deemed, except in rare cases, the property of the holding institution. Exceptions include cases in which the material was collected without a permit when one was required from the originating country, or in which the material has a significant connection to indigenous peoples. Scientific or monetary value alone is not sufficient to support restitution.

-5.Duty of Care for People and Objects/ D- […] While on display, objects should be adequately supported and protected from human interference, e.g. unwanted handling or theft.


-2.Specimens of Other Extant and Recent Organisms, Including Invertebrates and Plants/ A- Institutions should ensure that all such material is obtained legally. Material should never be purchased, imported, collected or removed in contravention of national and international legislation or conventions pertaining to such material.

-2/ F- All sales should comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and any local or regional legislation or regulations which are in force.

International Council of Museums (ICOM)
ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums

-1.Museums Preserve, Interpret and Promote the Natural and Cultural Inheritance of Humanity/ 7.Security Requirements- The governing body should ensure appropriate security to protect collections against theft or damage in displays, exhibitions, working or storage areas, and while in transit.

-2.Museums that Maintain Collections Hold them in Trust for the Benefit of Society and its Development/ 1.Collections Policy- The governing body for each museum should adopt and publish a written collections policy that addresses the acquisition, care and use of collections. The policy should clarify the position of any material that will not be catalogued, conserved, or exhibited (See 2.7; 2.8).

-2/ 2.Valid Title- No object or specimen should be acquired by purchase, gift, loan, bequest, or exchange unless the acquiring museum is satisfied that a valid title is held. Evidence of lawful ownership in a country is not necessarily valid title.

-2/ 3.Provenance and Due Diligence- Every effort must be made before acquisition to ensure that any object or specimen offered for purchase, gift, loan, bequest, or exchange has not been illegally obtained in or exported from, its country of origin or any intermediate country in which it might have been owned legally (including the museum's own country). Due diligence in this regard should establish the full history of the item from discovery or production.

-2/ 4.Objects and Specimens from Unauthorised or Unscientific Fieldwork- Museums should not acquire objects where there is reasonable cause to believe their recovery involved the unauthorised, unscientific, or intentional destruction or damage of monuments, archaeological or geological sites, or species and natural habitats. In the same way, acquisition should not occur if there has been a failure to disclose the finds to the owner or occupier of the land, or to the proper legal or governmental authorities.

-2/ 6.Protected Biological or Geological Specimens- Museums should not acquire biological or geological specimens that have been collected, sold, or otherwise transferred in contravention of local, national, regional or international law or treaty relating to wildlife protection or natural history conservation.

-2/ 20.Documentation of Collections- Museum collections should be documented according to accepted professional standards. Such documentation should include a full identification and description of each item, its associations, provenance, condition, treatment and present location. Such data should be kept in a secure environment and be supported by retrieval systems providing access to the information by the museum personnel and other legitimate users.

-4.Museums Provide Opportunities for the Appreciation, Understanding and Management of the natural and Cultural Heritage/ 5.Display of Unprovenanced Material- Museums should avoid displaying or otherwise using material of questionable origin or lacking provenance. They should be aware that such displays or usage can be seen to condone and contribute to the illicit trade in cultural property.

-6.Museums Work in Close Collaboration with the Communities from which their Collections Originate as well as those they Serve/ 1.Co-operation- Museums should promote the sharing of knowledge, documentation and collections with museums and cultural organisations in the countries and communities of origin. The possibility of developing partnerships with museums in countries or areas that have lost a significant part of their heritage should be explored.

-6/ 2.Return of Cultural Property- Museums should be prepared to initiate dialogues for the return of cultural property to a country or people of origin. This should be undertaken in an impartial manner, based on scientific, professional and humanitarian principles as well as applicable local, national and international legislation, in preference to action at a governmental or political level.

-6/ 3.Restitution of Cultural Property- When a country or people of origin seeks the restitution of an object or specimen that can be demonstrated to have been exported or otherwise transferred in violation of the principles of international and national conventions, and shown to be part of that country’s or people’s cultural or natural heritage, the museum concerned should, if legally free to do so, take prompt and responsible steps to co-operate in its return.

-6/ 4.Cultural Objects From an Occupied Country- Museums should abstain from purchasing or acquiring cultural objects from an occupied territory and respect fully all laws and conventions that regulate the import, export and transfer of cultural or natural materials.


-5.1 Identification of Illegally or Illicitly Acquired Objects- Where museums provide an identification service, they should not act in any way that could be regarded as benefiting from such activity, directly or indirectly. The identification and authentication of objects that are believed or suspected to have been illegally or illicitly acquired, transferred, imported or exported, should not be made public until the appropriate authorities have been notified.

-7.Museums Operate in a Legal Manner/ 1.National and Local Legislation- Museums should conform to all national and local laws and respect the legislation of other states as they affect their operation.

-7/ 2.International Legislation- Museum policy should acknowledge the following international legislation which is taken as a standard in interpreting the ICOM Code of Ethics:

- UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (The Hague Convention, First Protocol, 1954 and Second Protocol, 1999);

- UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970);

- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1973);

- UN Convention on Biological Diversity (1992);

- Unidroit Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995);

- UNESCO Convention on the protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001);

- UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003).

-8.Museums Operate in a Professional Manner/ 1.Familiarity with Relevant Legislation- Every member of the museum profession should be conversant with relevant international, national and local legislation and the conditions of their employment. They should avoid situations that could be construed as improper conduct.

-8/ 2.Professional Responsibility- Members of the museum profession have an obligation to follow the policies and procedures of their employing institution. However, they may properly object to practices that are perceived to be damaging to a museum or the profession and matters of professional ethics.

-8/ 3.Professional Conduct- Loyalty to colleagues and to the employing museum is an important professional responsibility and must be based on allegiance to fundamental ethical principles applicable to the profession as a whole. They should comply with the terms of the ICOM Code of Ethics and be aware of any other codes or policies relevant to museum work.

-8/ 4.Academic and Scientific Responsibilities- Members of the museum profession should promote the investigation, preservation, and use of information inherent in the collections. They should, therefore, refrain from any activity or circumstance that might result in the loss of such academic and scientific data.

-8/ 5.The Illicit Market- Members of the museum profession should not support the illicit traffic or market in natural and cultural property, directly or indirectly.

-8/ 7.Museum and Collection Security- Information about the security of the museum or of private collections and locations visited during official duties must be held in strict confidence by museum personnel.

-8/ 8.Exception to the Obligation for Confidentiality- Confidentiality is subject to a legal obligation to assist the police or other proper authorities in investigating possible stolen, illicitly acquired, or illegally transferred property.

-8/ 15.Interaction with Dealers- Museum professionals should not accept any gift, hospitality, or any form of reward from a dealer, auctioneer, or other person as an inducement to purchase or dispose of museum items, or to take or refrain from taking official action. Furthermore, a museum professional should not recommend a particular dealer, auctioneer, or appraiser to a member of the public.

International Council on Archives (ICA)
Code of Ethics

-1- Archivists should protect the integrity of archival material and thus guarantee that it continues to be reliable evidence of the past. The primary duty of archivists is to maintain the integrity of the records in their care and custody. […]

-2- Archivists should appraise, select and maintain archival material in its historical, legal and administrative context, thus retaining the principle of provenance, preserving and making evident the original relationships of documents. […] They should not seek or accept acquisitions when this would endanger the integrity or security of records; they should cooperate to ensure the preservation of these records in the most appropriate repository. Archivists should cooperate in the repatriation of displaced archives.

-5- […] Archivists should keep a permanent record documenting accessions, conservation and all archival work done.


-1- […] The objectivity and impartiality of archivists is the measure of their professionalism. They should resist pressure from any source to manipulate evidence so as to conceal or distort facts.

-4- […] Archivists should be aware that acquiring documents of dubious origin, however interesting, could encourage an illegal commerce. They should cooperate with other archivists and law enforcement agencies engaged in apprehending and prosecuting persons suspected of theft of archival records.

-7- Archivists should […] act within the boundaries of relevant legislation.

-8- Archivists must refrain from activities which might prejudice their professional integrity, objectivity and impartiality. […] Archivists should not collect original documents or participate in any commerce of documents on their on own behalf. They should avoid activities that could create in the public mind the appearance of a conflict of interest.

-10- Archivists should seek to enhance cooperation and avoid conflict with their professional colleagues and to resolve difficulties by encouraging adherence to archival standards and ethics.

International Federation of Dealer Associations (CINOA)
CINOA Code of Ethics and Charter

-2- The affiliated members of CINOA who happen to possess an object about which there are serious suspicions that it was illegally imported and of which the country of origin demands that it is returned within a reasonable amount of time, shall have to do everything that is possible to them according to the current laws to cooperate in returning the object to its country of origin.

-4- The members will have to take all the necessary measures to detect stolen objects and refer, among others, to registers that are published to this effect and to use these judiciously.

-6- It is the duty of each one of the members to check the authenticity of the objects they possess.


-2- The affiliated members of CINOA agree to comply with the laws on the protection of endangered species. They therefore agree not to trade in objects manufactured from materials that are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

-5- The members cannot under any circumstance participate in transactions which to the best of their knowledge can result in money-laundering operations.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
IFLA Code of Ethics for Librarians and other Information Workers



-5.Neutrality, personal integrity and professional skills- […] Librarians and other information workers counter corruption directly affecting librarianship, as in the sourcing and supply of library materials, appointments to library posts and administration of library contracts and finances. […]

-6.Colleague and employer/employee relationship- […] Librarians and other information workers strive to earn a reputation and status based on their professionalism and ethical behaviour. […]

International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO)
Code of Ethics

-4.Recording of Rock Art/ 2.Coverage of recording- All recordings of rock art are incomplete. Therefore rock art recordings need to be as comprehensive as possible, and by multi-disciplinary means.

-5.Removal of Samples/ 1.Archaeological research- No excavation shall be undertaken at a rock art site unless it forms part of an appropriately authorised archaeological research project. This includes the removal of any sediment to uncover rock art images. Similarly, no archaeological surface remains shall be removed or relocated.

-5/ 2.Sampling of rock art and adjacent geomorphic exposures- No samples shall be removed of paint residue, accretionary deposits of any kind, or of the support rock, except after the following requirements have been satisfied:

(a) The sample removal is to form part of a larger and specific research design that has peer approval; […]

(e) Traditional indigenous custodians, where they have jurisdiction, have approved the sample removal;

(f) The relevant local or national authorities have approved the sample removal;


-3.Issues of Ownership/ 1.Traditional owners and indigenous cultural custodians- In areas where indigenous peoples live whose lifestyles and beliefs continue traditions associated with rock art, members recognize their ownership of the sites, and all research, conservation or management of such sites are subject to the full approval of the traditional owners. […]

-3/ 2.Local antiquities and cultural heritage laws- Members shall abide by all local, state or national laws protecting archaeological sites and monuments, and comply with heritage protection laws generally.

-6.Conservation/ 3.Protection- Members will not disclose the locations of non-public and unprotected rock art sites to the general public. Ultimately, the best protection will depend on the awareness of the general public of the value of rock art. Part of any conservation effort should include the education of the public towards respect for rock art wherever it occurs.

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB)
ILAB Code of Ethics - Rules and Regulations for the Professional Rare Book Trade

-Description and Disclosure- Members shall be responsible for the accurate identification and description of all material offered for sale. […]

-Authenticity- Members shall vouch for and make every reasonable effort to substantiate the authenticity of all materials offered for sale. […]

-Stolen Property- Members shall be responsible for passing to the buyer clear title to all material sold […]. Due diligence practices include knowing, or confirming, the identity of a vendor, recording all purchases and taking reasonable steps to ensure the legitimacy of goods being offered. […]They shall co-operate fully with law enforcement authorities to recover and return stolen material […].


-Stolen Property- Members shall [….] not knowingly purchase, hold or attempt to re-sell stolen material. […] They shall co-operate fully with law enforcement authorities to recover and return stolen material, and to apprehend those responsible.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
International Code of Ethics for Dealers in Cultural Property

-Article 1- Professional traders in cultural property will not import, export or transfer the ownership of this property when they have reasonable cause to believe it has been stolen, illegally alienated, clandestinely excavated or illegally exported.

-Article 2- A trader who is acting as agent for the seller is not deemed to guarantee title to the property, provided that he makes known to the buyer the full name and address of the seller. A trader who is himself the seller is deemed to guarantee to the buyer the title to the goods.

-Article 3- A trader who has reasonable cause to believe that an object has been the product of a clandestine excavation, or has been acquired illegally or dishonestly from an official excavation site or monument will not assist in any further transaction with that object, except with the agreement of the country where the site or monument exists. A trader who is in possession of the object, where that country seeks its return within a reasonable period of time, will take all legally permissible steps to co-operate in the return of that object to the country of origin.

-Article 4- A trader who has reasonable cause to believe that an item of cultural property has been illegally exported will not assist in any further transaction with that item, except with the agreement of the country of export. A trader who is in possession of the item, where the country of export seeks its return within a reasonable period of time, will take all legally permissible steps to co-operate in the return of that object to the country of export.

-Article 6- Traders in cultural property will not dismember or sell separately parts of one complete item of cultural property.

-Article 7- Traders in cultural property undertake to the best of their ability to keep together items of cultural heritage that were originally meant to be kept together.


-Article 5- Traders in cultural property will not exhibit, describe, attribute, appraise or retain any item of cultural property with the intention of promoting or failing to prevent its illicit transfer or export. Traders will not refer the seller or other person offering the item to those who may perform such services.

-Article 8- Violations of this Code of Ethics will be rigorously investigated by (a body to be nominated by participating dealers). A person aggrieved by the failure of a trader to adhere to the principles of this Code of Ethics may lay a complaint before that body, which shall investigate that complaint. Results of the complaint and the principles applied will be made public.

World Archaeological Congress (WAC)
First Code of Ethics

-Principles to Abide by/ 1- To acknowledge the importance of indigenous cultural heritage, including sites, places, objects, artefacts, human remains, to the survival of indigenous cultures.

-/ 5- To acknowledge that the indigenous cultural heritage rightfully belongs to the indigenous descendants of that heritage.


-Rules to Adhere to/ 1- Prior to conducting any investigation and/or examination, Members shall with rigorous endeavour seek to define the indigenous peoples whose cultural heritage is the subject of investigation.

-/ 2- Members shall negotiate with and obtain the informed consent of representatives authorized by the indigenous peoples whose cultural heritage is the subject of investigation.

-/ 3- Members shall ensure that the authorised representatives of the indigenous peoples whose culture is being investigated are kept informed during all stages of the investigation.

-/ 5- Members shall not interfere with and/or remove human remains of indigenous peoples without the express consent of those concerned.

-/ 6- Members shall not interfere with and/or remove artefacts or objects of special cultural significance, as defined by associated indigenous peoples, without their express consent.

World Federation of Friends of Museums (WFFM)
Code of Ethics for Friends and Volunteers of Museums



-Section 4.Duties / 1.Requirements and Regulations- Museum friends and volunteers should recognize the need to respect the requirements and regulations of the institution.

-/ 4.Conflicts of Interest- They should make it a point of honour to avoid conflicts of interest and to abide by the rules laid down by both their institution and their association.

-/ 5.Gifts and Acquisitions- When friends and volunteers donate works of art, collection specimens and objects, they should make every effort to ensure their authenticity and their origin. They should follow the regulations of the museum.

-/ 6.Full Approval of the Institution- Donations to the institution from friends and volunteers should be made with the full approval of the institution and in accordance with its acquisition policy. It is recommended that the institution inform donors beforehand of the particular works, objects, or specimens it wishes to acquire.