The instrument of accession to the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention has been deposited by Benin with the Italian Government, Depositary of the Convention, on 11 January 2021 and the Convention will enter into force for Benin on 1 July 2021.
This accession strengthens the legal framework to protect the heritage of Benin and to fight against illicit trafficking in cultural objects.
-> Further details about the Convention are available at page
-> The complete status of the Convention is available at page
By acceding to the Convention, Benin takes an important step forward in the process of improving its legal framework for heritage protection in providing specific mechanisms facilitating the restitution and return of stolen and illegally exported cultural objects for the future.
It also comes in the wake of the debates underway in particular within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and more particularly within the framework of the “2019-2023 Action Plan for the return of African cultural property to their countries of origin” which calls on its Member States to ratify, as soon as possible, the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.
This important step by Benin, shortly after ratification by Côte d’Ivoire, is also part of the “formulation of a common law to guarantee the permanence of African collections to Africa, between [European States] and African States concerning the future of restitutions” as highlighted in the Sarr Savoy Report. The report also states that “[t]his Convention is the only juridical tool capable […] to establish a common law for restitution as well as ensuring the permanence of the process undertaken for the cultural objects stockpiled during the colonial period”.
The members of the National Assembly of Benin adopted in plenary session on Monday, January 27, 2020, the law authorizing accession to the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.