Saturday, 12 January 2013

SAFE: Say YES to....

The rationale behind SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everybody):
1. An antiquity loses its informative value when torn from its original context without proper scientific excavation.
2. Looting, smuggling, and trading illicit antiquities destroy information about our shared cultural heritage.
3. We promote respect for the laws and treaties that protect cultural heritage and property.
4. We encourage legal and ethical behavior among collectors, dealers, and museums to stop the trade in illicit antiquities.
5. We envision a world in which looting and destruction of ancient sites and the marketing and collecting of undocumented artifacts is unthinkable.
This is of course where the dealers and self-centred could-not-give-a-damn collectors  of those freshly surfaced (undocumented) artefacts start to feel uneasy about SAFE.

As part of its ongoing programme of bringing light to antiquity issues, SAFE Has a series of "Say YES to..." campaigns aimed at US public opinion.

Even though it is a state party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, in fact US law is totally inadequate to coping with the fact that the huge voracious US antiquity market operates in flagrant disregard of its article 3. Some 90% of the world's antiquities can pass through US dealers' hands without anyone ever asking where they came from and how they arrived in the US. The few percent that actually come under the laughably-inadequate and anachronistic "Convention on Cultural Property Implementation (the term is used loosely) Act" only have such desultory protection temporarily as the result of five-year agreements with specific Convention states-parties, or their prolongation.

At the moment there is a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and mainstream media of artefacts looted in the 1970s in Cambodia which somehow have ended up in the USA. The US has a bilateral cultural property agreement with Cambodia, let us see what this actually means for the Koh Ker statues in several US public collections and private hands. In fact the CCPIA is totally irrelevant to these cases, nobody is even considering using this piece of  legislation to do any implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The reason for this is that the legislation is a piece of 1980s US robber-baron do-good-poser rubbish, intended to create a good impression, but not in any significant way effect anything. American politicians would like to see the nation cast in the "Truth and Justice and the American Way" role of global policeman in antiquities issues, but we have all seen over the past few years just how seriously they and their justice system treats antiquity issues, bot concerning cultural offences committed against their own heritage as well as that of anybody else.

Nevertheless, that is no excuse for inaction. Two wrongs have never made a right. SAFE is attempting to raise US public awareness of the importance of the type of measures employed by the CCPIA to help curb the transfer of ownership of illicit antiquities, and though I would like to see the latter scrapped in favour of a modern legislation which takes a far more rigorous approach to US responsibilities, I support these campaigns and look forward to them being stepped up in the near future.

About Say YES to Cambodia's heritage, our heritage
To preserve and safeguard the cultural heritage of Cambodia.

The Angkor Temple complex in Cambodia stands as a testament of architectural, historical and artistic achievement by Khmer civilization. Built in the jungles of Southeast Asia between 800 -1220 AD over 100 temples stand today. Although the Angkor Temples are the best preserved and therefore well known remnants of Khmer civilization there are also thousands of other ancient sites, such as cemeteries. These sites are looted for bronze, ceramics, gold, semi-precious stones and other materials. Unfortunately, widespread looting of these sites to feed the demand of collectors all over the world has caused irreparable damage. We at SAFE feel strongly that the best way to understand objects of Cambodian history is within their archaeological, architectural and historical contexts, scientifically examined and professionally preserved. We know we are not alone in our desire to save the vast cultural riches of Cambodia and we urge anyone interested to please join this cause.
This is an initiative of SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving cultural heritage worldwide.
Join us!
Say YES to Egypt's heritage
Say YES to Greece's heritage
Say YES to Italy's heritage 

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