Friday, 16 May 2014

"Too many words"

John Howland's pal Peter Tompa has a go at me for remarking on my blog that I managed to stay within the CPAC-comments 5000 character limit. Pseudonymous Coin collector Voz Earl/Jesse Hoffman says in reply (NB on the blog of the man who sent the longest example) "frankly, I find the multi-paged attachments of the MOU supporters to be verbose and pedantic" full of information about the topics which according tpo the CCPIA the CPAC solicits public comment upon. Voz Earle reckons the CCPIA needs rewriting, so that the CPAC would allow people to "cut to the chase" and answer the "important questions", to whit, in effect:
1) Is increased looting a problem in the country asking? (his answer: "YES")
2) Is adoption of this MOU likely to have any measurable impact on that looting? (his answer: "NO" - see below)
3) Is adoption of this MOU likely to interfere with the ability of American citizens to access [smuggled] artefacts ? (his answer: "YES")
"There you have it in a nutshell" he announces triumphantly. I guess the latter two answers he suggests are supposed to justify not doing anything about artefact smuggling. The 1970 UNESCO Convention is not, and never was, intended to be about "looting"; that's an interpretation of its overall purpose which comes only from dullard American collectors and dealers who've not read it properly.

Nevertheless, collectors who insist that the CPAC and Department of State et al. should "follow the law" (CCPIA), and allege that when entering some MOUs they do not, might like to reflect that it is in fact the four points of 19USC 2602 upon which the public is asked to comment, among other things to help CPAC gather information  for their own deliberations. Coin collectors who do anything else are themselves ignoring the very same laws that they accuse others of not following.


Unknown said...

You say: "The 1970 UNESCO Convention is not, and never was, intended to be about "looting";"
So what is it about? The introduction to the treaty specifically mentions "...theft, clandestine excavation, and illicit export,".
I would have thought that includes looting.

Mr X

Paul Barford said...

Umm, why take a phrase out of context and say that is what the Convention is "about"?

The full context of that phrase is its part of the general considerations underlying the entering into this Convention. Look at that context, then look how that list culminates:

"Considering that the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property is an obstacle to that understanding between nations which it is part of UNESCO’s mission to promote by recommending to interested States, international conventions to this end,

Considering that the protection of cultural heritage can be effective only if organized both nationally and internationally among States working in close co-operation,

Considering that the UNESCO General Conference adopted a Recommendation to this effect in 1964,

Having before it further proposals on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property, a question which is on the agenda for the session as item 19,

Having decided, at its fifteenth session, that this question should be made the subject of an international convention,

Adopts this Convention on the fourteenth day of November 1970.

There is nothing there about looting. THIS convention is about "means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property".

US collectors have taken out of context one article (9) which THEY (and they alone amongst all the Convention's states party) take as being the "only" contents of the Convention. They then propose placing the USA in the position of the world's policemen charged with the mission of checking whether the others are "doing it right" before they will "graciously" do anything at all, which is NOT AT ALL in the spirit of or mandated by the Convention.

Don't try to force your oversimplification and still less political ambitions to be an arbiter over others on the rest of the world.

But thanks for being one of the few collectors to actually READ the Convention. Most don't, I fear. "Too many words" for them.

Unknown said...

So why are theft and clandestine excavation specifically mentioned in the introduction?
The "means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property" are simply means to an end, which is to counter the theft, looting and smuggling of cultural goods.

Mr X

Paul Barford said...

Why? Because, as the text itself makes abundantly clear, they are among the stacked series of assumptions which underlie the adoption of the Convention "on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property". Look at it in the context of the whole sequence. This is the way such conventions are structured. Compare it with a few others to see the context of the use of these words you seek to isolate.

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