Tuesday, 21 September 2010

My Submission to the CPAC on the Greek Cultural Property Request

This is what I wrote to the CPAC. I took the instruction to address Section303(a)(1) (19 U.S.C. § 2602) of the CCPIA more literally than most:

The cultural patrimony of Greece is clearly in extreme jeopardy from the pillage of both archaeological or ethnological materials to satisfy the unregulated international market in antiquities. Ancient Greek artefacts are much coveted by collectors in countries like the US which like to see in them a tangible relic of their own ‘cultural roots’. The expansion of the market has however led to the need to supplement existing stocks of such collectables from old collections with freshly “surfaced” material much of which is likely to have recently been illicitly and destructively excavated from ‘productive’ archaeological sites.

The measures that Greece uses to protect the cultural patrimony of the region include attempting to reduce this activity. This is hindered by the incentives provided by the external market including to a large extent large numbers of US dealers and collectors. These individuals (as we can see in the public submissions here) demand continued unregulated import of collectable types of archaeological material, even if it has been illegally exported. They simply ignore the wishes and rights of citizens of Greece in this respect, and the attitudes revealed by their statements indicate that less drastic means (such as relying on the self regulation of the US market) would be ineffective in stemming the flow of illicit artefacts.

Clearly the application of US import restrictions (as set forth in section 307 of the CCPIA) with respect to archaeological and ethnological material exported from Greece of the State Party would be of substantial benefit in deterring the international trade in illicit artefacts deriving from pillage, and will affirm the desire of the US to establish a moral leadership in this regard. Curtailing the illicit trade in collectable archaeological artefacts is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the use of and interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes.
Next time (and I wish I'd thought of it earlier) I'd like to make an attachment showing up the "dirty tricks" the coineys were using to manipulate collectors into objecting to the measures proposed to cut down the illegal exports from Greece that can get onto the US market. The CPAC will not read it, but those not so deeply involved looking through the public submissions might find it revealing.

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