International principles

At international level, in December 1998 the Swiss Confederation played an active part, along with 43 other nations, in the formulation and approval of the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art (the “Washington Principles”). This underscored the importance the Swiss Confederation attaches to the handling of issues associated with Nazi-looted art and to the achievement of just and fair solutions in this area.

Switzerland then took part in two subsequent international conferences (Vilnius 2000 and Prague-Terezin 2009), and was among the countries approving the declarations emerging from these. There remains a need for action in the implementation of the Washington Principles, which was reasserted at both of the two follow-up conferences.

To improve understanding of the international principles in the field of Nazi-looted art, the Swiss Federal Council commissioned the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA, Federal Office of Culture) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA, Directorate of Political Affairs), in collaboration with the cantons (the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education) and the museum associations (Swiss Museums Association; Swiss Art Museums Association), to draw up an explanatory commentary on the Washington Principles and the declarations issued by the Vilnius and Terezin conferences:

Last modification 03.04.2024

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Federal Office of Culture
Contact Bureau on Looted Art
Hallwylstrasse 15
3003 Bern
Phone +41 58 464 72 28

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