Council of Europe adopted the new criminal law Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property on 3rd of May 2017. Starting from 19 of May the Convention is open for signature to any country in the world.
The Convention is considered to be the only international treaty specifically dealing with the criminalisation of the illicit trafficking of cultural property. It fills a gap in international law, since none of the existing conventions deal with criminal law issues. It complements the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the 1972 UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.
The new convention will replace the European Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, which was opened for signature in Delphi on 23 June 1985, but never entered into force, since only six States have signed it, and none have ratified it
The Nicosia Convention (called so based on the place of adoption) establishes a number of criminal offences, including theft; unlawful excavation, importation and exportation; illegal acquisition and placing on the market and other such activities.
There is strong support from the international community for this Council of Europe’s initiative. First six countries have already signed the Convention - Armenia, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, San Marino and Mexico.
Full text of the Convention available here: https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=0900001680704b30
You are welcome to watch a small video regarding the necessity and justification for the new Convention: http://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-channel/-/protecting-cultural-property
Explanatory Report to the Council of Europe Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property is available here: https://rm.coe.int/1680710437