The International Council of Museums (ICOM), created in 1946 and representing museums and museum professionals, is committed to the promotion and protection of natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible. With 30,000 members in 137 countries, ICOM, with its unique network, is active in a wide range of museum- and heritage-related disciplines.
Maintaining formal relations with UNESCO and having a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), ICOM works in collaboration with organisations such as WIPO, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO) to carry out its international public service missions, specifically regarding mediation, the fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods and the protection of heritage in case of natural disasters or armed conflict. In particular, ICOM is one of the four founding bodies of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS). Through its numerous programmes, ICOM has the ability to mobilise expert networks in the field of cultural heritage from all over the world.
In 2013, ICOM created the first International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods, once more formally placing the fight against this trend at the heart of its public service missions.