Thursday, 25 November 2010

The US and the 1970 UNESCO Convention: Fundamental Question

Coiney collector's rights "international affairs expert" Dave Welsh assures us that the US CCPIA the intent of the CPIA was
that import restrictions would be a temporary solution [...] not a permanent general policy toward accepting responsibility for enforcing export control laws of other nations. The law intended that the US should take effective action to induce requesting nations to solve their own problems, including defects in their antiquities laws and the enforcement of those laws. Import restrictions were intended to "buy time" for such solutions to be devised and implemented.
I would like to ask him and his legal sidekick Tompa to show us where in the text of the Act it actually says that (I stress: in the text of the Act itself and not some collectors' interpretation of "what the authors had in mind"). I have carefully and hopefully reread the entire tiresome text (here and here) from front to end and with the best will in the world (because I'd like to believe that the US would like to curb archaeological looting), but cannot find any evidence whatsoever to support Welsh's assertion. The CCPIA has no preamble stating its purpose, and the measures it lays down refer exclusively throughout to matters related to import controls, not rewriting the legislation of how other countries protect archaeological sites, ensure reporting of accidental finds nor preserve the archaeological record. These come under other international documents (such as the Valetta Convention) to which the US is not a signatory, and to which the CCPIA in all certainty does not apply.

It seems to me that until they show us the phrases to which they are referring, we may regard the antiquity dealers' and collectors' interpretation of the "intent" of the act (which quite clearly is written to implement a particular Convention referring to a specific issue), as simply made-up. That goes for the basis for Mr Witschonke's "rational" and "thoughtful, well considered" neo-colonialist proposal. Where does the CCPIA, let alone the 1970 Convention, give - as is asserted - the US the authority to place an ultimatum before another state party to change its legislation before it will comply?

Are there any pro-heritage (or anti-heritage) lawyers who'd care to comment on the ACCG's imperialist interpretation of the 1970 Convention and the US's 1983 CCPIA?

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