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Ukrainian Heritage Held Hostage: Crimean Gold’s Long Way Home

I. Introduction

2014 was the beginning of a turbulent but crucial journey for the Ukrainian identity to gain a foothold. In February of that year, parallel to the unfolding of the Euromaidan,[1] five Ukrainian museums lent invaluable historical treasures known as the ‘Crimean Gold’—a collection of over 500 objects—[2]to the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam (‘AP Museum’) as part of a touring exhibition titled ‘Crimea: The Golden Island in the Black Sea’.[3] The uniqueness of this exhibition attracted more than 100,000 visitors.[4] However, soon after the collection was put on display in March 2014, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation.[5] While 19 objects were returned to the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in Kyiv,[6] the remaining objects became the subject of a dispute between the State of Ukraine, four museums in the annexed Crimea (the ‘Crimean Museums’), and the AP Museum. The question for the AP Museum was whom the collection should be returned to—was it the State of Ukraine, to whose Museum Fund these artifacts belong, or the Crimean Museums, which lent them?[7] The answer to this question would determine whether the Crimean Gold is part of Ukrainian heritage. And with the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian Federation on 24 February 2022, the question of preservation of the Ukrainian heritage gained even more importance.

II. Crimean Gold—Ukrainian Heritage?

In pursuit of answers, the Crimean Museums initiated a legal action against the AP Museum on 19 November 2014 in the Netherlands,[8] to which Ukraine has been involved as an intervening party.[9] In determining whom the Crimean Gold should be returned to, the District Court of Amsterdam (‘Court’) evaluated whether (i) there has been an illicit transfer of the artifacts; (ii) if yes, who has the right to claim their return, and therefore to whose heritage it belongs. In doing so, the Court applied the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (‘1970 UNESCO Convention’),[10] which was implemented in the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act and used the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (‘1995 UNIDROIT Convention’) as an ‘inspiration’ for interpreting the legal standards used broadly.[11]

First, for the artifacts to be claimed for return, the fact of their illicit transfer from the country of origin should be established. Here, the Court used the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention to broaden the provisions in the 1970 UNESCO Convention applied.[12] Some of the named principles support the notion that the lex originis of the artifact is key to determine the lawfulness of a transfer.[13] This means that the illicitness of the transfer shall be resolved by the law of the State of origin of the cultural object.[14] In Ukraine, as the State originis, under Article 23 of the Law on Export, Import, and Restitution of Cultural Objects (‘Ukrainian Law on Cultural Objects’), for the transfer to be illicit, the latter should not have been returned to the territory of the requesting State at the time prescribed by the loan agreement.[15] Although this provision requires the transfer, ie the export or import, of the cultural objects to be illicit, the Court interpreted this rule broadly, following the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention approach,[16] to also include the case of non-return of the objects.[17] In this case, the loan agreements obliged the AP Museum to return the Crimean Gold to the five Ukrainian museums by September 2014. Having returned some to the National Museum of History of Ukraine, the retention of the Crimean Gold from four Crimean Museums beyond the return date was considered to be illicit.[18]

Second, having established an illicit retention, the Court continued by turning to the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act, which in Article 6.7 provides that return may be claimed either by ‘the State Party from which the property originates or by the party with a valid title to such property’.[19] This provision therefore allows, alongside States, also non-State deprived owners to claim return of the artifacts,[20] meaning that both Ukraine and the Crimean Museums could bring the return claim. This broad approach also arises out of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.[21] Nevertheless, while both Ukraine and the Crimean Museums could bring the return claim, the question now was whose claim would succeed: whose cultural heritage did the artifacts belong to? The Court was not convinced by the Crimean Museums’ arguments that the Crimean Gold had stronger cultural-historical links to Crimea as a physical place and should therefore be returned to its ‘true home’.[22] Instead, the Court sided with Ukraine, which claimed return of the Crimean Gold as objects of national patrimony and state property based on Ukrainian law, which designates the artifacts of the Crimean Museums as such.[23] Such national patrimony establishes a ‘genuine link’ from a cultural-historical perspective,[24] and therefore overrides the ‘operational management’ of the Crimean Museums over the Crimean Gold under the loan agreements.

And here, the annexation of Crimea is irrelevant to the legal status of the named Ukrainian-registered cultural objects,[25] as Ukraine had transferred the named ‘operational management’ over Crimea-based cultural objects to the National Historical Museum of Ukraine shortly after the annexation.[26] Crimea—or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as provided in the Constitution of Ukraine—has been part of independent Ukraine since 1991.[27] Although Crimea enjoys some autonomy in administering its historical objects,[28] the Court held that, in case of concurring claims between a State and a non-State party, the claim of the State which protects the artifacts as national patrimony will prevail.[29] At the same time, the Court refrained from ruling on the question of ownership over the Crimean Gold relying on Article 1012 of the Dutch Code of Civil Procedure, which states that ‘ownership of the cultural object that is subject to a return request by a State Party will be decided upon after return by the national laws of the state that claimed for its return’,[30] ie after the objects return to Ukraine in accordance with its laws. Nevertheless, the Court held that the Crimean Gold is indeed Ukrainian heritage. This made Ukraine one step closer to restoring and maintaining its sustainable preserving of the artifacts.

However, not satisfied with the decision of the Court, the Crimean Museums lodged an appeal with hopes of having the ruling overturned. In its grievance, the Crimean Museums restated that the Crimean Gold had no links to Ukraine, but rather to the Crimean Peninsula and therefore should be returned to the latter. The Court of Appeal, faced with this intricate issue before it, came to a decision after more than two years of consideration. It ultimately upheld the Court’s assessment: the Crimean Gold shall be returned to Ukraine.[31] However, in coming to its decision, the Court of Appeal pointed out several ‘buts’.

A. The first ‘but’: there has been no illicit retention of the Crimean Gold by the AP Museum

While Ukraine had based its claim on Article 6.7 of the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act, as discussed above, in their appeal, the Crimean Museums focused their claims on Article 6.3 of the same act. They argued that the retention of the Crimean Gold by the AP Museum beyond the term prescribed in the loan agreements resulted in an illicit export of the Crimean Gold in the sense of Article 6.3.[32] 

Here, Article 6.3 of the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act provides that:

It is prohibited to bring into the Netherlands cultural property that:

a. has been taken outside the territory [1] of a Contracting State in violation of the provisions adopted by that Contracting State in accordance with the objectives of the 1970 UNESCO Convention with regard to the export [2] of cultural property from that State Party or with regard to the transfer of ownership of cultural property; or

b. has been stolen from a contracting state.[33]

The Court of Appeal began the evaluation of the Crimean Museums’ claim by right away establishing that Article 6.3(b) is not relevant as there has been no theft of cultural property.[34] While Article 6.3(a), in the parts relevant to the factual pattern of the dispute, provides for two issues which the Court of Appeal had put a finger on. First, the judges established that at the time the Crimean Gold was initially ‘taken outside the territory’ of Ukraine, such taking outside the territory was legal and there had been no violation in the meaning of the 1970 UNESCO Convention (the language of which, inter alia, Article 6.3 adopted). The Court of Appeal specifically mentioned that the Crimean Gold had quite a journey from Ukraine to Germany and finally to the Netherlands in accordance with the validly executed export licenses issued by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.[35] For these reasons, the initial ‘tak[ing] outside the territory’ of Ukraine lacked any breaches.

And second, the question for the judges to resolve therefore orbited around the following issue: whether the term ‘export’ in Article 6.3(a) should be interpreted broadly as to include the retention of the cultural property beyond the term enshrined in the loan agreements. If yes, whether such retention is legal or would otherwise result in an ‘illicit export’, as the Crimean Museums suggest. To recall, the District Court had engaged in an interpretation of the same matter by reverting to the broad approach found in the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention and therefore coming to a positive answer to this question. On the appeal stage, however, the judges considered this instrument irrelevant and not applicable.[36]

For this reason, the Court of Appeal relied on the 1970 UNESCO Convention, in particular its object and purpose, preamble,[37] and Articles 2(1), 3 and 6(b) in establishing the scope of the term ‘export’.[38] After looking at these provisions, the judges concluded that the 1970 UNESCO Convention was meant to give the terms ‘export’ (and ‘import’) nothing more than their ordinary meaning. Therefore, this instrument only addresses situations in which illicit acts are committed at the time when the cultural property is transferred from one country to another, and this does not include cases when illicit acts occur if the cultural property remains in the other country longer than permitted.[39] The retention of the Crimean Gold by the AP Museum was therefore legal,[40] and as such, contrary to the flawed belief of the Crimean Museums, cannot be regarded as an ‘illicit export’. At the end of the day, as the Court of Appeal underlined, the reason why the AP Museum retained the Crimean Gold was not because it wished ‘to embezzle the Crimean [Gold]’ or engage in ‘other illicit practices’,[41] but simply because Ukraine is against its cultural heritage being returned to the illegally occupied Crimean Peninsula (effectively controlled by the Russian Federation). Although the judges did comment that ‘handing over the museum pieces to the Crimean Museums would in no way imply recognition of the secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its affiliation with the Russian Federation’.[42] 

B. The second ‘but’: in any case, the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act and the Ukrainian Law on Cultural Objects do not apply

Despite all the evaluation of Articles 6.7 and 6.3 of the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act, the Court of Appeal held that this instrument was not applicable in the case at hand. The simple reason being that there had been no cause of action able to ‘activate’ these provisions. In particular, as discussed above, Article 6.7 enshrined the right of the State originis as the claiming party, while Article 6.3 enlisted grounds entitling such a claiming party for the establishment of an illicit activity over cultural property. Neither provision applied individually because they were designed to work in tandem. While in practice, the Crimean Museums, seeing the disadvantage for its position had it relied on Article 6.7, and same as Ukraine, seeing the disadvantage for its position had it relied on Article 6.3, both avoided mentioning the two provisions together. This was picked up by the Court of Appeal, which ultimately concluded that since the Crimean Gold was ‘taken outside the territory’ of Ukraine legally, and since the resulting retention by the AP Museum was legal, neither article was applicable.[43] In a similar manner, contrary to the decision of the District Court, which evaluated Article 1012 of the Dutch Code of Civil Procedure, providing that ‘ownership of the cultural object that is subject to a return request by a State Party will be decided upon after return by the national laws of the state that claimed for its return’, the Court of Appeal held that this provision is only applicable to claims based on Article 6.7 of the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act. And since such a claim failed, as shown above, there can be no application of Article 1012 of the Dutch Code of Civil Procedure, and in turn, the Ukrainian Law on Cultural Objects, which it would trigger.[44]

C. So, what did apply?

Now, the question arises: what did the Court of Appeal apply in coming to its decision? In essence, the Court of Appeal ruled on the cultural heritage issue based on the evaluation of the ‘[r]ights to the museum exhibits of a proprietary nature (and restrictions thereon under Ukrainian Law)’.[45] The parties did not object to the Crimean Gold belonging to the Ukrainian Museum Fund and being governed by the Law of Ukraine on Museums.[46] The Court of Appeal therefore evaluated the following Ukrainian Laws.

First, the Law of Ukraine on Museums. It was enacted in 1995 and is designed to preserve Ukrainian cultural heritage and provides for limitations as to the exercise of the rights over cultural property.[47] In this vein, the Court of Appeal noted the steps that Ukraine had taken to safeguard its cultural property, namely:

  • On 20 July 2000, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, on the basis of the Law of Ukraine on Museums, had introduced a Regulation on the Museum Fund of Ukraine (‘Regulation’), with provisions relating to, inter alia, alienation of cultural objects.[48] 

  • On 23 March 2014, soon after the unfolding of the Euromaidan, the Regulation was supplemented by Article 41.1 which authorised the Minister of Culture of Ukraine to make decisions with regards to the cultural property which became subject to a force majeure situation (risk of destruction, loss, or damage).

  • On 13 May 2014, such a decision was indeed made by the Minister of Culture of Ukraine, by results of which it was decided that cultural property subject to force majeure were to be temporarily transferred to the National Museum of History of Ukraine in Kyiv.[49] 

And second, the Court of Appeal looked at Article 13 of the Constitution of Ukraine and Article 18 of the Law of Ukraine on Protection of Archaeological Heritage, which both establish Ukrainian cultural property as part of the Museum Fund of Ukraine.[50]

As a result of these laws and regulations, Ukraine argued that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea could not be considered as the rightful ‘owner’ of the Crimean Gold. Although the Autonomous Republic of Crimea does exercise some autonomy in managing the museum artefacts, as discussed above, at best, as Ukraine argued, the prior could be the owner of the buildings where its museums were located, and not its contents.[51] The Crimean Museums, not satisfied with the Regulation and the decision of the Minister of Culture of Ukraine above, objected in the court proceedings that a force majeure situation had indeed occurred,[52] and in essence that (i) the Ukrainian Laws above are not relevant since the Crimean Museums held the ‘operational management’ over the Crimean Gold under the loan agreements; and again, (ii) simply because the Crimean Gold has direct links to the Crimean Peninsula, in contrast to Ukraine.

Based on the evaluation of the above, the Court of Appeal first and foremost underscored that it will not be deciding on the matters of ownership, similar to the position of the District Court, as it is not decisive in the matter.[53] Nevertheless, it did hold that although the Crimean Gold did originate from Crimea and can be regarded as Crimean heritage, it is still cultural heritage of Ukraine. This is so because Ukraine has existed as an independent State since 1991.[54] And because of this, Ukraine has an overriding interest in preserving the artefacts. It had not only safeguarded its interest by enacting the Law of Ukraine on Museums, but also by continuously created a regime of protection of its cultural heritage (including the Regulation).[55] The Court of Appeal was therefore convinced that Ukraine’s interest in preserving its national patrimony shall be given a priority over any private right.[56] This approach has also been recently upheld by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands on 9 July 2023.[57]

III. Crimean Gold—Ukrainian Heritage!

As the Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court all determined the Crimean Gold as part of Ukrainian heritage, the fact of it being in dispute in the first place interrupted the sustainable development of the culture of Ukraine. From 2014 to the decision of the Supreme Court, the Crimean Gold remained stored in the AP Museum. Given the geopolitical tensions between Ukraine and the Russian Federation in Crimea which started in 2014, and now in the conditions of a full-scale war started by the Russian Federation, the Crimean Gold was made a ‘hostage of geopolitics’ for more than eight years. This, in turn, has impacted Ukraine’s ability to protect and safeguard its cultural heritage, which has a historical, social, and anthropological value,[58] and is an enabler of sustainable development of the country.[59] The very concept of sustainable development ‘would mean achieving a state of…economic, and social improvement that could be reasonably maintained indefinitely’[60] and ‘would not slow down’.[61]

For Ukraine, this development has been impacted since the commencement of the litigation over the Crimean Gold: ‘indefinite’ maintenance was in question and the development had in fact ‘slowed down’. It is crucial, as ‘cultural heritage plays a marginal role’ in contributing ‘significantly to the sustainable development’ of a State .[62] In view of its significance, in September 2015, cultural heritage has been included in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDG’) being a universal agenda which seeks to strengthen the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability by 2030.[63] Ukraine, alongside 192 other States, has committed to the 17 SDGs, which although do not identify cultural heritage as a separate goal, integrated it into SDG 11.4. This goal relevantly calls for strengthening efforts to protect cultural and historical heritage.[64] It is crucial because ‘you cannot build a society purely on interests, you need a sense of belonging’—a phrase once said by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, a former president of France, which greatly describes the essence of SDG 11.4. This target specifically addresses cultural heritage. It calls to ‘strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage’.[65] The UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Development Programme, among other benefits of successful preserving of cultural heritage, depicts that heritage related activities help people recover a sense of continuity.[66] It further underscores that it cultivates ‘a sense of belonging’,[67] and defines its citizens’ shared identity.[68]

Notably, when it comes to the Crimean Peninsula, where the Crimean Gold was excavated, it is very rich in archaeological sites called ‘kurgans’, burial mounds carrying weapons, dishes, statues, and many more items of Scythians, Greeks, and Goths.[69] Exactly these kurgans held the secrets of Scythians, ancient nomadic people who resided in the coastal areas of the Black Sea and Crimea in 900-100 BC.[70] Kyivan Rus’, which had centuries thereafter emerged in the territory of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, considered itself a successor of Scythians.[71] Now, almost 1,100 years after the emerging of Kyivan Rus’, modern independent Ukraine is preserving the archaeological treasures excavated in Crimea under its sovereignty and part of its long-lasting identity. Although the litigation over the Crimean Gold endangered its prompt return to Ukraine, as well as because soon after the above proceedings commenced, the Russian Federation enforced a law including the Crimean Gold in its national artefacts’ registry,[72] the success of Ukraine in the dispute is an important step towards restoring its heritage and bringing it where it belongs.

For instance, similar circumstance had occurred in relation to a fourteenth-century bronze Buddha statue stolen from a Kannon Temple in Tsushima Island in October 2012.[73] Here, South Korea had initiated proceedings in the Daejon District Court, where it was similarly tasked to decide where the statue should be returned to: Japan, who kept the stolen statue; or South Korea, whose heritage it was part of. The Daejon District Court ultimately decided that the statue should be returned to a South Korean Buddhist Buseok Temple, noting that the statue contained ancient scripts describing its origin (South Korean), which the Daejon District Court linked to the invasion of South Korea by Japan in the fourteenth century.[74] By doing so, the Daejon District Court respected the strong cultural-historical link of the statue to the country of its origin, relying on the 1970 UNESCO Convention, regardless of the statue being stolen during the invasion of South Korea. Although the case with respect to the Crimean Gold does not consider larceny, the essence of this ruling denotes the weight which the State originis has in relation to its cultural heritage—a principle which originated from the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.[75] Precisely the same is observed in the case of the Crimean Gold. Returning it to Ukraine would restore its heritage for the future generations and preserve people’s sense of belonging.

IV. Conclusion

‘A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots’, as Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born African American politician, once famously said. Similarly, not having access to one’s heritage endangers its future. In this case, the Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court, although using different approaches to evaluate the matter, all came to the same conclusion: the Crimean Gold is an inherent part of Ukrainian heritage and shall therefore be returned to Ukraine. Thus, the Crimean Gold has found its long way back home and with its return Ukraine can begin to restore the ‘roots’ of its tree of heritage.


Leila Kazimi

Leila Kazimi is a Ukrainian dispute resolution lawyer specialising in international commercial and investment arbitration.


[1] Rudolf Kasinec and Marián Šuška, ‘Case of the Crimean Treasures—to Whom Should the Treasures be Returned?’ (2020) 62 Scientific Journal of the Uzhhorod National University 16.

[2] Lyudmila Strokova, ‘Crimea. Golden Island in the Black Sea. Chronicle of the struggle for the “Scythian gold” of Ukraine’ (The Voice of Crimea, 6 July 2020) <> accessed 10 March 2024. The five museums are (one in Kyiv and four in Crimea): The National Museum of History of Ukraine (Kyiv), the Central Museum of Tavrida (Simferopol), the Kerch Historical and Cultural Preserve (Kerch), the Bakhchisaray History and Culture State Preserve of the Republic of Crimea (Bakhchisaray), and the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos (Sevastopol). See Amsterdam District Court, Case No. HA ZA 14-1179 ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2016:8264, 14 December 2016. These artefacts are also referred to as ‘Scythian Gold’, though more commonly as ‘Crimean Gold’ given the multicultural origin of the gold objects which are not only Scythian. See Evelien Campfens and Irina Tarsis, ‘Cri-Me-A-River! Crimean Gold in the Crosshairs of Geopolitics’ (2017) 18(1) International Foundation for Art Research Journal 36, n 3.

[3] The exhibition was displayed in two international museums—in Bonn, Germany from 3 July 2013-19 January 2014 (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn, ‘Bonn Museum’) and in Amsterdam, the Netherlands from 6 February 2014-31 August 2014 (Allard Pierson Museum, ‘AP Museum’). See Amsterdam District Court (n 2) [2.1]. See also Strakova (n 2); Campfens and Tarsis (n 2) 40.

[4] Strakova (n 2).

[5] Gert-Jan van den Bergh, Martha Visser, and Auke van Hoek, ‘Netherlands’ in Lawrence M Kaye and Howard N Spiegler (eds), The Art Law Review (Law Business Research Ltd 2022) 244-62.

[6] Amsterdam District Court (n 2) [2.11]. See also Anastassia Boutsko, ‘Ukraine and Russia Dispute Over Crimea Gold Reaches Next Level’ (DW, 2 April 2022) <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[7] ‘Interim judgment in the matter of the Crimean treasures’ (de Rechtspraak, 16 July 2019) <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[8] Amsterdam District Court (n 2) [4.1].

[9] Campfens and Tarsis (n 2) 41.

[10] Ukraine, the Netherlands and the Russian Federation are all State Parties of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (‘1970 UNESCO Convention’).

[11] Although the Netherlands signed but did not ratify the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, the Dutch legislator has nevertheless chosen to reflect some of its principles in Dutch Law, including in the 2016 Dutch Heritage Act. See the Explanatory Memorandum to the Implementation of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property adopted in Paris on 14 November 1970 (Parliamentary Documents, Kamerstuk 31255, No. 3, 2007-2008) <> accessed 10 March 2024. See also Amsterdam District Court (n 2) [4.3]; Campfens and Tarsis (n 2) 45.

[12] 1995 UNDROIT Convention, Art. 5.2(2); Campfens and Tarsis (n 2) 45.

[13] 1970 UNESCO Convention, Art. 4(b).

[14] 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, Art. 3(2); Evelien Campfens, Cross-border claims to cultural objects. Property or heritage? (Eleven 2021) 193.

[15] Law of Ukraine on Exportation, Importation and Return of Cultural Values (Vidomosti Verkhovna Rada) No. 48 (1999), Art. 23

[16] Campfens (n 14) 82.

[17] ibid 81.

[18] ibid 82.

[19] ibid 83; Dutch Heritage Act 2016, Art. 6.7.

[20] Campfens (n 14) 83.

[21] ibid. See also the Explanatory Memorandum to the Implementation of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property adopted in Paris on 14 November 1970 (Parliamentary Documents, Kamerstuk 31255, No. 3, 2007-2008).

[22] Campfens (n 14) 77; Amsterdam District Court (n 2) [3.2].

[23] In particular, under the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (February 2, 2000) on the basis of Art. 15(3) of the Law of Ukraine on Museum and Museum Affairs of 29 June 1995; Constitution of Ukraine, Art. 13. See also Evelien Campfens, ‘Whose Cultural Heritage? Crimean Treasures at the Crossroads of Politics, Law and Ethics’ (2017) Grotius Centre Working Paper 2017/068-PIL 7.

[24] Campfens (n 23) p. 15.

[25] ibid 7.

[26] ibid.

[27] Campfens and Tarsis (n 2) 39.

[28] Campfens (n 23) 15.

[29] Amsterdam District Court [4.8]. See also Campfens (n 14) 83.

[30] Dutch Civil Code of Procedure, Art. 1012.

[31] Court of Appeal of Amsterdam, Case No. 200.212.377/01, C/13/577586 / HA ZA 14-1179, 26 October 2010.

[32] ibid [3.4].

[33] ibid [3.5]; Dutch Heritage Act 2016, Art. 6.3.

[34] Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (n 31) [3.5].

[35] ibid.

[36] ibid [3.14]-[3.16].

[37] The Court of Appeal acknowledges that the 1970 UNESCO Convention generally opposes to the cultural property remaining in the recipient country longer than permitted, by referring to its Preamble, which reads: ‘Considering that it is incumbent upon every State to protect the cultural property existing within its territory against the dangers of theft, clandestine excavation, and illicit export’. Nevertheless, as there has been no ‘theft, clandestine excavation, and illicit export’, the Court of Appeal held that the AP Museum acted legally.

[38] Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (n 31) [3.6]; 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, Art. 2(1) and 3.

[39] Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (n 31) [3.6]

[40] ibid.

[41] ibid.

[42] ibid [3.8.3].

[43] ibid [3.18]-[3.21].

[44] ibid [3.21].

[45] ibid [11].

[46] ibid [3.22].

[47] ibid [3.25.1].

[48] ibid.

[49] ibid.

[50] ibid [3.28].

[51] ibid.

[52] ibid [3.25.2].

[53] ibid [3.31]. See also ‘Allard Pierson Museum has to hand over the Crimean Treasures to the Ukrainian State’ (De Rechtspraak, 26 October 2021) <> accessed 10 June 2024.

[54] Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (n 31) [3.32.3].

[55] ibid.

[56] ibid.

[57] Supreme Court of the Netherlands, Case No. 22/00270б ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2021:3201 (9 July 2023).

[58] Wen Xiao, Jon Mills, Gabriele Guidi, Pablo Rodríguez-Gonzálvez, Sara Gonizzi Barsanti, and Diego González-Aguilera, ‘Geoinformatics for the conservation and promotion of cultural heritage in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ (2018) 142 Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 1.

[59] ibid.

[60] Caleb A Folorunso, ‘Globalization, Cultural Heritage Management and the Sustainable Development Goals in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Nigeria’ (2021) 4 Heritage 1709.

[61] Indre Gražuleviciute, ‘Cultural Heritage in the Context of Sustainable Development’ (2006) 27(3) Environmental Research, Engineering & Management, 74-9.

[62] Folorunso (60) 1710-1.

[63] British Council, ‘The Missing Pillar: Culture’s Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ (British Council, 2020) 9 <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[64] Jyoti Hosagrahar, ‘Culture: at the heart of SDGs’ (UNESCO, 11 April 2017) <> accessed 29 May 2023.

[65] ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, A/RES/70/1’ (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 21 October 2015) <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[66] Xiao et al (n 58) 3.

[67] Luigi Petti, Claudia Trillo, and Busisiwe Ncube Makore, ‘Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development Targets: A Possible Harmonisation? Insights from the European Perspective’ (2020) MDPI 13; ‘Culture in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda: A Report by the Culture 2030 Goal Campaign’ (Creative Europe, September 2019) 38 <> accessed 29 May 2023.

[68] International Council on Monuments and Sites, ‘Heritage as a Driver of Sustainability’ (Google Arts and Culture) <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[69] Campfens and Tarsis (n 2) 39-40.

[70] ibid 39.

[71] Oleksandr Palii, ‘A History of Ukraine: Great Victories of Great Scythia’ (Radio Lemberg, 27 December 2017) <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[72] Campfens and Tarsis (n 2)

[73] Song In-geol and Gil Yun-hyung, ‘Court rules that ancient Buddhist statue can remain in Korea’ (Hankyoreh, 27 January 2017) <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[74] Campfens (n 23) 17-8; ‘S. Korea court awards Japan’s stolen statue to local temple’ (Dawn, 27 January 2017) <> accessed 10 March 2024.

[75] Campfens (n 23) 15.


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