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Part II Substantive Aspects, Ch.22 National Treasures at the Intersection between Cultural Heritage and International Trade Law

Tania Voon

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Cultural Heritage Law

Edited By: Francesco Francioni, Ana Filipa Vrdoljak

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 19 January 2021

International trade — Settlement of disputes

This chapter analyses the extent to which international trade law accommodates the export and import control measures that States commonly adopt in order to prevent illicit trade in cultural property in accordance with the 1970 UNESCO Convention. It examines the exception for ‘national treasures’ found in World Trade Organization (WTO) law and other international economic agreements. The definition of cultural property in the relevant UNESCO treaty is not necessarily identical to the meaning of national treasures in WTO law. Moreover, the WTO Appellate Body has shown reluctance to apply non-WTO law in determining WTO disputes, so a conflict between UNESCO and WTO provisions or domestic regulations might not necessarily be resolved as expected. This conclusion provides one example of the limitations of the current Appellate Body approach to international law and suggests, with respect to cultural property, that closer alliance in treaty drafting may be required to enhance coherence.

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