Professional Guidelines established by
World Archaeological Congress (WAC)

First Code of Ethics (1990)

Organization's Web Site

Specific Guidelines

First Code of Ethics

Adopted by WAC Council in 1990 at WAC-2, Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Principles to Abide By:

Members agree that they have obligations to indigenous peoples and that they shall abide by the following principles:

1. To acknowledge the importance of indigenous cultural heritage, including sites, places, objects, artefacts, human remains, to the survival of indigenous cultures.

2. To acknowledge the importance of protecting indigenous cultural heritage to the well-being of indigenous peoples.

3. To acknowledge the special importance of indigenous ancestral human remains, and sites containing and/or associated with such remains, to indigenous peoples.

4. To acknowledge that the important relationship between indigenous peoples and their cultural heritage exists irrespective of legal ownership.

5. To acknowledge that the indigenous cultural heritage rightfully belongs to the indigenous descendants of that heritage.

6. To acknowledge and recognise indigenous methodologies for interpreting, curating, managing and protecting indigenous cultural heritage.

7. To establish equitable partnerships and relationships between Members and indigenous peoples whose cultural heritage is being investigated.

8. To seek, whenever possible, representation of indigenous peoples in agencies funding or authorising research to be certain their view is considered as critically important in setting research standards, questions, priorities and goals.

Rules to Adhere to:

Members agree that they will adhere to the following rules prior to, during and after their investigations:

1. Prior to conducting any investigation and/or examination, Members shall with rigorous endeavour seek to define the indigenous peoples whose cultural heritage is the subject of investigation.

2. Members shall negotiate with and obtain the informed consent of representatives authorized by the indigenous peoples whose cultural heritage is the subject of investigation.

3. Members shall ensure that the authorised representatives of the indigenous peoples whose culture is being investigated are kept informed during all stages of the investigation.

4. Members shall ensure that the results of their work are presented with deference and respect to the identified indigenous peoples.

5. Members shall not interfere with and/or remove human remains of indigenous peoples without the express consent of those concerned.

6. Members shall not interfere with and/or remove artefacts or objects of special cultural significance, as defined by associated indigenous peoples, without their express consent.

7. Members shall recognise their obligation to employ and/or train indigenous peoples in proper techniques as part of their projects, and utilise indigenous peoples to monitor the projects.

The new Code should not be taken in isolation; it was seen by Council as following on from WAC's adoption of the Vermillion Accord passed in 1989 at the South Dakota Inter-Congress.