Wednesday, 18 November 2015

'Hollande proposes that Syrian antiquities be brought to France for safekeeping'

Ed Adamczyk, 'Hollande proposes that Syrian antiquities be brought to France for safekeeping', Nov. 17, 2015
French President Francois Hollande proposed a plan to offer "asylum" to Syrian artifacts and historical antiquities Tuesday. In an address to the 38th meeting of the UNESCO conference in Paris, Hollande said he would assemble a group of French archaeologists and local authorities to remove antiquities from Syria for safekeeping in France. His plan, he said, would protect artifacts from "fanatics who are attacking the living and the dead, all who have humanity today and tomorrow, and those of yesterday."
As Christopher Jones notes, neither France nor Syria are party to the 2nd Protocol to the Hague Convention on Cultural Property and Conflict "which is relevant since it's the 2nd Protocol that prohibits removing artifacts". In a thoughtful and challenging piece he examines the implications of two different concepts of war, the existing international conventions and suggests that protection of the cultural heritage is held back by our reliance on old paradigms designed within the context of an international system that is becoming less and less relevant in many parts of the world. He argues:
We need to consider new models for cultural heritage preservation that are not predicated on the continuation of the current Westphalian, United Nations-backed international system. We will need to consider unrecognized states, non-hierarchical power structures, open source insurgencies and systematic disruptions. Some of John Robb‘s work on networked resilient communities may be an interesting place to begin. (Incidentally this is a debate to which scholars of pre-modern societies may have the most to contribute). The Sykes-Picot imposed international system that has governed the Middle East since World War 1 is fading. Syria and Iraq will never again be the way they were, for twentieth century Arab nationalism is dead and gone. In the long term this sort of systematic instability may envelop the entire international system. Let us consider the future now, that we not be blindsided again.
Christopher Jones, 'The Endless War', Gates of Nineveh November 18, 2015.

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