The Commission primarily obtains assurances regarding the protection and preservation of cultural property by negotiating formal, bilateral agreements between the United States and foreign governments. Negotiations with the governments of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and adjacent parts of the former Soviet Union are conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State.
Twenty four bilateral agreements are currently in effect – with the Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Slovenia, Slovakia, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Estonia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Armenia, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Georgia, Italy, and Kosovo.
The Commission is seeking agreements with five other countries: Azerbaijan; Belarus; Greece; the Russian Federation; and Turkey.
The bilateral agreements on the protection and preservation of certain cultural properties generally pledge the signatory countries to:
- Help protect and preserve properties, including places of worship, monuments, cemeteries, and related archives that are important to the cultural heritage of their residents and former residents.
- Cooperate in identifying such properties, particularly endangered and significant properties.
- Ensure equal treatment of all cultural groups in property preservation and access policies.
- Cooperate in ensuring the protection and preservation of properties of groups that are not able to ensure protection and preservation on their own.
- Establish a Joint Cultural Heritage Commission for bilateral efforts.
The agreements place a focus on communal properties of groups that were victims of genocide during World War II and are no longer able to protect and preserve properties without assistance.
The United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad is the U.S. Government’s Executive Agent for implementing the agreements.