Cultural Bilateral Agreements

Bilateral agreements (also called a memoranda of understanding or MOUs) between "demand" and "supply" countries are an effective tool to fight the illicit antiquities trade. The U.S. President has authority to enter such MOUs under the 1983 Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act. These agreements restrict the import of undocumented archaeological and ethnological objects into the United States, thus closing our borders to criminal activity, while allowing a legal market to continue. At the same time, they also increase responsible scientific, cultural, and educational exchange through traveling exhibitions, museum loans, and research projects. These agreements benefit all parties. We encourage you to explore this progress through our interactive timeline—and to learn more about how you can support these important agreements.

1983-01-01 00:00:00

Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA)

In 1972, the United States Senate gave its unanimous advice and consent to the 1970 UNESCO Convention. However, because the Convention did not have a basis in U.S. law, special legislation was required to allow the U.S. to implement it. In 1982, Congress passed the CPIA, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in January 1983.

1987-09-11 00:00:00

El Salvador

Restrictions imposed on the import of pre–Hispanic objects from the Cara Sucia region.

1989-03-14 00:00:00


Barred the import of antique ceremonial Aymara textiles from Coroma, Bolivia.

1990-05-07 00:00:00


Imposed import restrictions on Moche artifacts from the Sipán archaeological region of northern Peru.

1991-04-15 00:00:00


Imposed import restrictions on Maya archaeological artifacts from the Petén region of Guatemala.

1992-03-12 08:16:12

El Salvador

Emergency restrictions were extended for an additional three-year period.

1993-05-05 01:06:11


Emergency import restrictions were extended for three years.

1993-09-23 00:00:00


Imposed import restrictions on archaeological material from the Niger river valley region and the Tellem valley burial caves in Bandiagara.

1994-11-02 00:00:00


Emergency restrictions are extended.

1995-03-08 00:00:00

El Salvador

Expanded the restrictions from the 1987 emergency restriction to include all pre–Hispanic archaeological materials, and continuing without interruption the protection on the materials from Cara Sucia.

Cultural Bilateral Agreements

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