How to request for return

Legal proceedings for the return of a cultural object must be instituted against the possessor of the holder or the cultural property, before the court that has jurisdiction.

The following must be served together with the writ of summons:

a) A document describing the movable and showing that the cultural property falls within the meaning of section 1(d) of the Implementation Act and is therefore of essential importance for the cultural heritage of the State Party from which the cultural property originates.

b) A declaration by the State Party that the cultural property has been unlawfully removed from its territory or has been unlawfully appropriated.

The Information and Heritage Inspectorate acts on behalf of the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science. As such, it will examine the suspected cultural property and the relevant documentation if it is seized in order to determine the validity of the claim. The Inspectorate can hold the cultural property on behalf of the Minister of Culture for up to two periods of 12 weeks to do this. 

This period allows the Member State of origin to further research the possibilities for starting a return procedure or to start legal proceedings at a Dutch court. The final verdict on the matter will of course be taken by the Dutch Court when the return procedure is instigated by the requesting party, the Member State of origin.

Furthermore, there are other instruments that can be used, such as the Penal Code for the offence of theft or misappropriation and a possible request for international legal assistance, or to start a civil or penal procedure. Other solutions are alternative dispute resolution and mediation, arbitration, exchange, gift, bilateral negotiation or use of the good offices of UNESCO.