Glossary beginning with S

The Glossary provides basic legal and technical definitions for the most common terms related to the fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods.



The signature of a treaty is an act by which a State provides a preliminary endorsement of the instrument. Signing does not create a binding legal obligation but does demonstrate the State’s intent to examine the treaty domestically and consider ratifying it. While signing does not commit a State to ratification, it does oblige the State to refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose. 

Source: United Nations


See "Archaeological site"


Act of importing or exporting a (cultural) good without paying lawful customs charges or duties.

Source: Encyclopedia

Spoil (of war)

The removal of artworks and other cultural property during armed conflicts or military occupation, including the objects seized as war reparation.

Source: Arthemis, Art-Law Centre, University of Geneva

State immunity

The principle of international law according to which a State enjoys immunity, in respect of itself and its property, from the jurisdiction of the courts of another State.

Source: Arthemis, Art-Law Centre, University of Geneva

State party

A State party to a treaty is a country that has ratified or acceded to that particular treaty, and is therefore legally bound by the provisions in the instrument.

Source: United Nations

State responsibility

The accountability of a State for the commission of a wrongful act, which may consists of an action or omission in breach of an international obligation of the State, such as the violation of a multilateral or bilateral treaty.

Source: Arthemis, Art-Law Centre, University of Geneva

Statute of limitation / Time limitation (time limit)

A domestic law establishing a temporal limit for bringing a legal action; after the expiry of the period specified in the statute any action is barred.

Source: Arthemis, Art-Law Centre, University of Geneva

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