Enforcement by Domestic Courts

Document Type


Publication Date

June 2013


This chapter describes how three types of illegal conduct are dealt with in civil and criminal cases: the looting of cultural objects from sites in which they are buried or concealed; the theft of such objects from their owners; and the smuggling of such objects across international boundaries in violation of export laws. It discusses the extent to which domestic courts can provide protection, given the complexities of international and domestic law. It argues that civil suits for the recovery of cultural objects are playing a declining role due to the difficulties of bringing such actions. Criminal suits have been ineffective because of the insufficient effort of law enforcement due in part to a lack of resources, and in part to the relatively low priority that governments have assigned to cultural objects.