Dr. Zsolt Visy, professor of archeology was elected as president in the UNESCO Headquarter in Paris by the 22 members of the Committee.

On the 20th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation, Ministerial Commissioner dr. Zsolt Visy was elected as the president of the Committee for the next biennium, unanimously by the 22 members of the Committee. Although Hungary participates in the work of the Committee for 3 years now, this is our first time chairing.

After the decision, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the OECD and UNESCO, dr. Zoltán Cséfalvay emphasized that the election of dr. Zsolt Visy is an outstanding success for Hungarian diplomacy, that proves not only the engagement but also the recognition of our nation in the protection of world heritage and cultural property.

The UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation operates since 1978. Its primary objective is to provide a platform for UNESCO member countries where they can settle their conflicts about the illicit appropriation of their cultural property, even in such particular cases where respective international agreements do not apply. Thus the Committee has a major responsibility in promoting the solution of politically sensitive and often protracted restitution matters in a diplomatic way. Organizations fighting against illicit trafficking of cultural property and antiquities – such as UNIDROIT, INTERPOL, and the Italian Carabinieri – are also present at these sessions. The Committee gives support, promotes and provides framework for the bilateral negotiations and discussions between the countries concerned. It also advocates the participants throughout the mediation procedures; however the Committee’s recommendations are not legally binding for the parties to the dispute. 

Under the presidency of dr. Zsolt Visy the Committee investigates cases like fostering international actions in fighting against “treasure hunters” marauding the seabed, or the recent developments in the dispute of the United Kingdom and Greece about the Parthenon marbles.   

Anna E. Zeichner - Rebeka Tóth