Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Combating illicit trade in stolen cultural property is and will continue to be a serious problem. Of all the measures that various states can take in combating this trade, the adoption of a choice-of-law rule would rank very low in importance and effectiveness. Even if one thinks only in terms of legal rules, there is little question that international conventions and agreements, criminal and other public-law statutes, and uniform substantive rules would be far more direct and effective than choice-of-law rules. At the same time, these other rules are much more difficult to adopt precisely because they presuppose a degree of consensus that is difficult to attain. In contrast, a consensus for a uniform choice-of-law rule is a far less ambitious goal and thus easier to attain--or so one hopes. In turn, this hope cannot be tested without putting forward specific proposals or contributing to the relevant debate. This Article has proposed a specific, if only modest, but hopefully balanced choice-of-law rule. The rule may or may not be found acceptable, but if it helps stimulate the debate--even by becoming a target of criticism--then this Article will have served its purpose.