ICOM tools

ICOM develops and disseminates internationally recognised tools to fight illicit traffic in cultural goods, such as Red Lists, Object ID, publications and guidelines.

The ICOM Red Lists of Cultural Objects at Risk are practical tools presenting the categories of cultural objects that can be subjected to theft and traffic. They help individuals, organisations and authorities, such as police or customs officials, identify objects at risk and prevent them from being illegally sold or exported.

Object Identification is an international standard used for describing cultural objects, facilitating the identification of archaeological, cultural and artistic objects in case of loss or theft. It sets a standardised procedure to document and describe these objects.

A good documentation of cultural objects is key in fighting illicit traffic. ICOM advocates the importance of documentation in compliance with professional standards. CIDOC, ICOM’s International Committee for Documentation, provides guidelines and standards in documentation of museum collections.

The transdisciplinary publication Countering Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods: The Global Challenge of Protecting the World’s Heritage gathers articles by researchers and academics, museum and heritage professionals, archaeologists, legal advisors, curators, and journalists. It includes case studies on looting in specific countries, with the primary aim of explaining the nature of the antiquities trade, the sources of the traffic, and the solutions at hand.

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums sets minimum standards for museum professionals and encourages the recognition of values shared by the international museum community. The Code advocates strong principles playing a key role in the fight against illicit traffic, for instance concerning due diligence and provenance.

In the section below, you will find information on the latest ICOM tools.