International principles

The Swiss Confederation is involved at an international level in dealing with issues pertaining to looted art arising from the National Socialist regime in Germany (1933–1945).

On 3 December 1998, Switzerland approved along with 43 other nations the “Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art” (Washington Principles). This emphasises the importance the Swiss Confederation attaches to achieving “just and fair solutions” in cases of looted art.
Switzerland also contributed to the declarations of the subsequent international conferences in Vilnius (2000) and Prague-Terezín (2009).

Washington Principles, 3 December 1998

The Washington Principles were approved at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, which was held in Washington, D.C. on 3 December 1998.

Best Practices for the Washington Principles, 5 March 2024

On the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles, the U.S. Department of State published the “Best Practices for the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art”. These “Best Practices” are not legally binding. They were drafted in the knowledge that there are different legal systems and that states act within the framework of their own legal regimes and laws.

Declaration of Vilnius, 5 October 2000

The Vilnius International Forum on Holocaust Era Looted Cultural Assets took place under the auspices of the Council of Europe on 3-5 October 2000 in Lithuania, at the occasion of which 38 states approved the Declaration of Vilnius.

Declaration of Terezín, 30 June 2009

The International Conference on Holocaust Era Assets took place in Prague from 26-30 June 2009. Within this framework, 46 states approved the Declaration of Terezin.

New report on the implementation of the Washington Principles, 5 March 2024

The World Jewish Restitution Organization and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany published a new report on 5 March 2024 on the implementation of the Washington Principles in different countries. Switzerland is credited with having made significant progress in implementing the Washington Principles.

Last modification 20.06.2024

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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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