Jewish Communities Worldwide

21 countries agree to updated guidelines on Nazi-looted art

Stuart Eizenstat, JPPI’s Co-Chair: “The Best Practices were drafted with the awareness that there are differing legal systems and that states act within the context of their own laws.”

A conference this week marking 25 years since the adoption of international standards for restituting Nazi-looted artwork presented a new set of best practices on the issue that have been adopted by more than 20 countries.

The best practices, set out by the World Jewish Restitution Organization, or WJRO, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, aim to “enhance” the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art.

The Washington Principles are a non-binding set of 11 guidelines on how to approach artwork that was stolen from Jews by the Nazis. They were adopted in 1998 by 44 countries and are credited with establishing norms around how countries should work to restitute the stolen pieces. Now, 21 other countries have signed on to the new standards unveiled this week.

The updated best practices document, presented at a March 5 conference hosted by the WJRO and U.S. State Department, provides a more explicit manual for how countries can implement the original principles without going through the courts.

“The Best Practices were drafted with the awareness that there are differing legal systems and that states act within the context of their own laws,” Stuart Eizenstat, the U.S. Secretary of State’s special advisor on Holocaust issues and a central figure in drafting the original principles, said in a statement. “While they are legally non-binding, they are morally important and, as with the Washington Principles, will advance art restitution.”

Published by JTA

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