Cultural heritage in Georgia is regulated by the Cultural Heritage Law which was adopted on 27 June 2007.The purpose of this Law is to protect the cultural heritage of Georgia and to provide regulations in this sphere. Georgia is also keen to protect Georgian cultural heritage abroad. It transfers some powers of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection to municipal authorities. Questions concerning the status of immovable monuments of culture of Tbilisi are to be addressed by municipal authorities.
The Cultural Heritage Law (2007) defines the terms and general mechanisms that will protect the cultural heritage against any encroachment. Protection is provided to all immovable monuments, movable parts of immovable monuments, movable monuments as well as to the objects with monument signs and immovable monument protection zones in the whole territory of Georgia, irrespective of the form of ownership.
As compared with the old Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage (1999), the 2007 Cultural Heritage Law covers a wider range of activities, is more specific in determining the rights and obligations related to cultural heritage, and is more rigorous in the formulation of principles for establishment of monument status.
On 2 September 2005, the government of Georgia passed the Resolution on the Rules of the Issue of Permits for Execution of Works on Monuments of History and Culture and Archaeological Digs. Work carried out on monuments of history and culture is regulated at state level. The new revision of this Law is aimed at improving the application of this legislation.
The control of permits / requirements is provided through the Law on State Control of Architecture and Construction Activity. State supervision of compliance with the terms of permits / requirements in the heritage field is undertaken by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection.
As these heritage protection acts have not long been in place, it is difficult to assess their success, although the acts of legislation and regulatory norms on the issue were available before the Rose Revolution of November 2003. New statutory acts reinforced and strengthened delimitation of responsibilities regarding protection and control of the monuments of history and culture.
The Law on Museums was passed on 22 June 2001 and takes guidance from the Law on Culture and the Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage (25.06.1999); the aims and purposes of the Law are to determine the basic principles of museum activity and use of museums; to provide state guarantees for museum activity; and to develop administration and financing principles for the system of museums. The Law determines categories of museums, regulates non-state involvement in museum activity and determines the rights and obligations of legal and natural persons in the sphere of museum activities. In line with this Law, the Ministry of Culture has developed Instructions on Accounting and Protection of Museum Objects in Georgia. This document is not a statutory act, but a manual for protection and accounting and restoration of museum objects.
The Law on Import-export of Cultural Objects was adopted on 22 June 2001, to determine the universal rules for importing and exporting cultural objects.
One of the most disputable issues in the protection of cultural heritage is the relationship between the state and the Georgian Orthodox Church within the context of the concordat signed in 2000.
Although the process of forming a legislative base in the sphere of cultural heritage is almost completed, in reality the laws will be brought into line with international and European standards. The laws are of a declarative nature; there are some discrepancies both in the legislation regulating the sphere of cultural heritage and as compared with the general laws, e.g. contravention to the Law on Legal Person under the Public Law which in turn contradicts the Law on Local Administration and Self-government (see chapter 1.2.2).
After the adoption of the Concordat (with the church), the legislation regulating the heritage sector has suffered a legal vacuum as no laws and acts of legislation interpreting the principles determined in the Concordat and delimiting the rights on the property of the state and the church have been passed.
The Law on the National Backlog regulates the activity of the National Archives.
Drafting of the Cultural Heritage Code is underway.