The debate on the importance of Culture in sustainable development is not new. So we even want it to constitute the fourth pillar, alongside the Economic, Social and Environment. To this end, Culture is seen as an engine of socio-economic development, and also as the construction of a national identity. Cultural goods are a major issue, in fact its circulation, that is to say its import and export, is generally carried out in an illicit and illegal manner. This is how we needed national and international legislation capable of stopping these abuses or controlling their circulation. Thus, it comes down to elaborating on how to control the circulation of cultural property by relying on national and international legislation.
The 1970 UNESCO Convention defines cultural property as property which, whether religious or secular, are designated by each state as being of importance for archeology, prehistory, history, literature, art or science. To this end, given the question of the national sovereignty of each State or Nation, it has agreed to adopt its own laws and rules that can control the circulation of its cultural property. Also, under public international law, the State can sign, accede and ratify treaties and Conventions according to its priorities and others with international organizations, States, etc. With regard to national legislation, it is a question of adopting protective measures in their territory by doing the following:
- Developing appropriate national legislation
- Creating national services for the protection of cultural heritage  Promote museums, libraries, archives, etc.
- Make national inventories
- Encourage the adoption of codes of conduct for the art market
- Develop educational programs to to raise awareness of respect for cultural heritage.
Indeed, all this will make it possible to control the circulation of cultural goods. With regard to international legislation, and especially the 1970 UNESCO Convention which deals with the import, export and transfer of illicit cultural property, which is the subject of preventive, restitution and cooperation measures international, it is one of the following:
- Establish a system of export certificates
- Prohibit the exit from their territory of cultural goods not accompanied by an export certificate
- Prevent museums from buying objects exported from another State Party without an export certificate
- Prohibit the importation of stolen objects from museums, religious institutions or public monuments
- Penalize anyone who ignores these prohibitions
- Adopt emergency measures prohibiting imports when the cultural heritage of a State is seriously threatened by intensive archaeological and ethnological looting (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syri e, etc.)
- Require art market professionals to keep a register specifying the exact provenance of each object they buy
Recognizing that it is a part of '' a question of national sovereignty, in this sense each State must adopt legal texts, and set up strong and autonomous institutions capable of fighting against the circulation of cultural goods, because this is the subject of a vast network of trafficking, contraband, looting and theft. From this, against traffic, the state is required to act urgently, so it is necessary to build infrastructure that meets standards in order to be able to preserve them, etc. At the international level, there are many Conventions which deal with the issue of circulation of cultural property, and the most important are those of UNESCO in 1970 and UNIDROIT in 1995.
The circulation of cultural property is a problematic of the history of wars, colonization, archaeological missions, research, churches, etc. In fact, most of the cultural property has been stolen and looted for these reasons mentioned above. This is how it hits the African continent hard, in fact 95% of African cultural property is held and preserved outside Africa. Some countries including Haiti are strongly subject to this problem. The illicit circulation of cultural goods is an undeniable fact, but this does not prevent us from recognizing positive progress in terms of restitution. We can take as an example: 26 objects from France in Benin (pending), 2 statues and a carved staff from France to Peru in June 2019, a saber from France in Senegal, 26 Egyptian archaeological treasures returned from Switzerland in November 2018, 400 0 objects from the USA to Haiti in 2020, etc.
In short, it is imperative to continue the fight to prevent the illicit export and import of cultural goods, to which each State must fully commit. by drawing up laws and rules, building infrastructure, setting up strong institutions, training executives, respecting and applying international commitments, developing international cooperation (bilateral, multilateral), etc. And one day we will end with the illicit circulation of cultural goods, memories of previous generations.
Job Pierre Louis