The 4th Meeting of the African Union Commission Working Group to develop the African Union (AU) Model Law on the Protection of Cultural Property and Heritage was held in Cairo, Egypt from 20th to 23rd February 2018. The meeting was jointly organized and funded by the AU Department of Social Affairs, the African World Heritage Fund and the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN). The objective of the meeting was to finalize the draft African Union Model Law on the Protection of Cultural Property and Heritage

The Working Group was established in July 2015 and the First Working Group Meeting was held at the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa in September 2015. The 2nd and 3rd Working Group Meeting took place in Cairo, Egypt from 17 to 21 December 2016 and Lilongwe, Malawi from 28th to 31st August 2017 respectively.

The Model Law

The development of the model law is guided by the research findings of a European Union sponsored Study on Combating Illegal Trafficking in African Cultural Goods in the AU Member States that was undertaken in 2014, commissioned by the African Union Commission. The model law refers further to the UNESCO Conventions for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, The Hague (14 May 1954) and the First (1954) and Second Protocols (1999), the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970), the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995), the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001) and, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.


The Cairo Meeting was attended by representatives from the African Union (Social affairs & Commission on International Law); AWHF, ACALAN, UNESCO, legal experts from Africa and Independent cultural experts.