January 20, 2022

Research Tools: UNESCO Strengthens its Database (NATLAWS) on National Laws for the Protection of Cultural Heritage


Since 2005 UNESCO has facilitated online access to its database on national legislation for the protection of cultural heritage—NATLAWS, an international tool for combating the illicit traffic in cultural property. This database allows users to search by keywords, name, country, year of publication, and contains crucial country information, such as contacts of national authorities responsible for the export of cultural goods or general information on the ministries responsible. To date UNESCO holds a large number of physical archives of national legislations transmitted by Member States since the 1950s.

In 2019 UNESCO began to update the NATLAWS database. This project aims to improve the quality of the documents available in the database and to transform its interface making it more accessible to users. This complete overhaul was made possible thanks to financial support from Switzerland. An inventory of missing laws is also underway, and a comprehensive index of cultural heritage laws has been created.

The project in progress since 2019 involves scanning all the existing documentation in high-definition. This initiative will safeguard the institutional memory that these archives represent.

In total, the NATLAWS database includes 3022 different laws, decrees and amendments, allowing the user to easily access the title of the law, but also the content of the document.

Direct to Announcement

Direct to NATLAWS Website

Direct to NATLAWS Database Search Interface

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.