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Legal Affairs Committee

Chairperson : John McAvity (Canada)
: legalaffairs@icom.museum


  • Patrick Boylan (UK)
  • Rachelle Brown (USA)
  • Jean-François Canat (Expert - France)
  • Trevor Carmichael (Barbados)
  • Luisa de Peña Díaz (Dominican Rep.)
  • Laurence Massy (Belgium)
  • Virgil Nitulescu (Romania)
  • Rina Pantalony (USA)
  • Adrian Parkhouse (Expert, UK)
  • Marilyn Phelan (USA)
    Executive Council representative :
  • Michel Van Praët (France)
    Ex-Officio members:
  • Julien Anfruns (Director General)
  • Stanislas Tarnowski (Director for the development of programmes)


The Legal Affairs Committee, with a fixed life and renewable mandate triennially, will operate in parallel to the long-standing
ICOM Ethics Committee (with similar terms of appointment), and
also parallel to the new Finance and Resources Committee.

Minutes of meeting of the Legal Affairs Standing Committee, (December 2007)
PDF Version
Minutes of meeting of the Legal Affairs Standing Committee, (February 2007)
PDF Version
Minutes of meeting of the Legal Affairs Standing Committee (27 May 2006)
PDF Version
Minutes of meeting of the Legal Affairs & Properties Standing Committee (22 October 2005)
PDF Version
 Report of the Legal Affairs & Properties Standing Committee on the international process for the resolution of disputes over the ownership of objects in museum collections
PDF Version
 Promoting the use of Mediation in Resolution of disputes over the Ownership of objects in Museum Collections: Statement by the President of ICOM Alissandra Cummins (2006)

Composition of the committee (9 members)
The committee will include, ex officio, the President and Secretary-General of ICOM. It should include two other members of the Executive Council, and be chaired (as with the Ethics Committee) by an experienced ICOM person drawn from outside the membership of the Council itself - so that the advice rendered through this committee will be guided by depth of professional experience and expert knowledge intellectually and professionally. However such advice should also be directed to augmenting Council's grasp of specific issues of evolving importance, and assist Council in taking decisions and actions in accordance with its responsibilities of governance.

The committee will report to and operate under the authority of the Executive Council. However it should seek appropriate expertise - having in mind the special tasks of the committee - beyond the Executive Council, incorporating skills and experience drawn more broadly from the Advisory Committee and the wider membership of ICOM. Special expertise in the academic/legal sector may be sought, as this might benefit ICOM and its commitment to the professional work of museums and museum personnel, and ongoing care and protection of the world's cultural heritage.

The committee should be well equipped with experienced persons who could assist ICOM in advancing its knowledge, expertise, and capacity for informed action on legal and intellectual property issues (including issues arising through electronic communications and ICOM's involvement in the ',museum' top level domain).


The committee's work should be in concert with ICOM's mission, objectives, and interests in increasingly complex legal and intellectual property matters affecting museums and museum professionals' life.

Beyond the sphere of day-to-day operational matters that are the responsibility of the Secretariat, this committee will:

  1. examine and advise the Council (and thereby also the Advisory Committee) on broad legal issues concerning the governance responsibilities of ICOM;
  2. examine and advise the Council on the broader environment of evolving legal issues affecting museums, museum professionals and the wider cultural heritage sector today;
  3. seek reports and advice from the task forces on National and International Committees (NCTF and ICTF) to assist Council's clear understanding in general terms on legal and property interests (especially intellectual property interests) affecting the work of museums and museum professionals 1 ;
  4. provide considered, informed opinion to assist ICOM and its members to act wisely in legal respects, and in certain cases pursue a strong public position on legal issues affecting museums in their co-operative care of cultural heritage;
  5. examine and advise ICOM on issues arising through increasing electronic communications, virtual museum activities, and legal issues attending ICOM's collaborative management of eligibility candidacy to the 'dot museum' top-level registry domain on the Internet.


1. There is a potential crossover here with the work of the Finance and Resources Committee, and some liaison, or perhaps even occasional joint-session meetings, should be pursued. Other matters of common interest may arise similarly that deserve consultation and liaison with the Ethics Committee, and an integrated view of such connections and common concerns would be of value in the advice rendered to both the Executive Council and the Advisory Committee of ICOM

Updated: 21 May 2010