Friday, 25 March 2011

Does the panel Think....?

In the discussion of the 2010 Kirsten Gillibrand Anti-Convention-on-Cultural-Property-Implementation-Act Seminar held the other day about whether the Act is "working" or not, there is a lot of talk about something the panellists called the “concerted international response requirement”. This might lead some readers to believe that this is a requirement of the Act.

The wording of course nowhere appears in it, a United States law cannot of course dictate what other sovereign nations should or should not do on their own territory. What the CCPIA says is that the President may decide that if putting import controls on illegally exported items from source countries, "if applied in concert with similar restrictions implemented, or to be implemented within a reasonable period of time, by those nations (whether or not State Parties) individually having a significant import trade in such material, would be of substantial benefit" in deterring the illicit trade in the artefacts concerned (duh), he may do that. He may do that because to do so "is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes".

Note the Act nowhere says that if the United States, arguably currently the world's greatest and greediest importer of all types of dugup cultural property, would be the only nation applying "similar restrictions", these restrictions cannot be agreed upon.

In any case other nations do apply similar restrictions, Nobody in the UK can legally buy illegally obtained artefacts from other countries, like Japan and a whole host of other countries. Their legislation implementing the 1970 UNESCO Convention has a blanket ban on such tainted artefacts - not a selective one (agreed individually by the CPAC) as in the USA. It is the USA which is lagging behind the rest of the civilised world here, not the other way around. The USA is not implementing the Convention at all, it is flouting its accession to it. Shame on you all.

Note that the Cultural Policy Research Institute was discussing how the US with its outdated and ineffective 1983 act should be sliding further out of her obligations to protect the world's cultural heritage under the Convention. There seems not to have been a single word spoken about how US cultural policy can help stop the looting and illicit exports, which of course is pretty typical of the milieu. It is a shame the antiquity dealers' friend Mrs Gillibrand could not see her way to facilitating a seminar on that topic in the Russell Senate Office Building .

Photo: Kirsten (left) and Hilary enjoying a good laugh, perhaps about the American Cultural Policy Research Institute's amateurish attempts to mislead the voters.

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