Dutch Centre of Expertise for the Restitution of Cultural Goods and the Second World War

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4 October 2018: The independent Centre, whose establishment was announced two years ago by the Dutch government, has now opened under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and is sited at the NIOD (Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies) in Amsterdam.  See the NIOD announcement here.

The Centre combines the expertise of the Research Department of the Restitutions Committee and of the Origins Unknown Agency.

The Centre has two purposes as set out in a Decree of the Dutch Government of 20 September 2018:

One purpose is to carry out research for the Dutch Restitution Committee, set up by the government in 2001 to deal with all claims in The Netherlands.

The second and entirely new purpose is to provide an alternative route for decision-making. Rather than having to submit all claims to the Committee, claimants and institutions will now be able to request that the Centre conduct an impartial fact-finding investigation. On the basis of the independent investigation, parties may then arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. If they need additional guidanc or assistance, they may seek mediation or advice in the form they desire, including a recommendation from the Restitutions Committee.

The intention of this new purpose which gives the claimant and the current owner a more central role in the restitution procedure than they had previously, was first set out in a letter of 4 October 2016 from Mrs Bussemaker, the Minister of Culture to the House of Representatives, in which she stated:

“The applicant and the current owner will be given a more central role in the procedure for restituting art stolen by the Nazis than they had previously. They are primarily responsible for finding a mutually satisfactory solution. The parties can decide jointly to submit their case to the Restitutions Committee. However, they can also decide first to commission a factual report from the Centre of Expertise, which they can use to decide whether they can arrive at a solution that is satisfactory to both of them. The factual report gives them initial guidance for making a decision. If they cannot find a mutually satisfactory solution, they can still submit their case to the Restitutions Committee.”

For further details, click here.

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