Friday, 29 May 2015

1970 Convention: The World does not Revolve Solely Around Washington Nasties, Far From it

Dealer Dave, presumably with many years of close co-operation with UNESCO behind him, accuses me of making an "uninformed statement", to whit that in a recent text [about something else - please note], I expressed (not for the first time) my belief that the current wording of the 1970 UNESCO Convention is an anachronism in today's antiquities market and needs changing to take account of the changes to the market and threats to the cultural heritage. The coinshop owner reckons "changes to the text of the adopted 1970 UNESCO Convention are not allowed". He states that to do that you would have to have what he calls "a revising Convention". Not so. Mr Welsh's work with UNESCO has not prepared him for the task of arguing this point. Article 25 of the Convention itself not only allows revision of the wording of the document but also supplies an additional mechanism for changing it.

This is rather like the Valletta Convention is a revision of the London one. In the same way there could be two parallel conventions stipulating measures which would be binding on the states that ratified one or both of them. Mr Welsh reckons it would be "very surprising if the USA signed or acceded to" any later document, but if the USA wants conservatively to stay in the 45-year old one, then it can while the rest of us go forward into the 21st century with a Convention better suited to the market and threats - and possibilities - of the 21st century. Welsh though thinks that the USA would pull out of the 1970 version too:
it is quite possible that the firestorm of controversy that would culminate in the defeat of efforts to secure US approval of or accession to such a revised Convention would eventually lead to revocation of, or modifications to, the deposited US instrument of accession to the existing Convention
My readers will know that I think the USA should either implement the Convention properly (i.e., without the institutionalised hypocrisy that is embodied by its current application - see the Hopi masks issue now being played out because of it) or get out and show the world just what its Wild West antiquities trade is. US dealers and collectors should not have it all their own way as they have up to now.

Actually, who cares about what Neocon nasties in America think (or fail to think through)? There is a whole world out there beyond the bounds of Washington, a world full of culture, ancient civilizations and their remains, and reasonable people with a long tradition of cherishing it. The  rest of us can sort out the issues concerned with the trade here and now and not the imagined once-upon-a-time trade of some transatlantic Philistine heritage grabbers with their patronising colonialist attitudes, foreign to the rest of us (and a good number of decent Americans too). A revision of a Convention for the global community does not need "US approval", Mr Welsh. Especially when you lot are still not paying your dues to UNESCO because we (the rest of us) by democratic decision accepted Palestine into it without "US approval".

Meanwhile note how silent US antiquity dealers, including coineys and their lobbyists are about the other issues I raised in my post about the UN General Assembly resolution.

Vignette: US Go-ahead not needed.

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