Saturday, 27 November 2010

USA: Article 3? Article 3 is Right Out! You Know What you can All do with Your Article 3?

Peter Tompa continues his habitual denigration of anyone who might be interested in the USA honouring its commitments embodied in it being a state party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention.
there needs to be more analysis of the foreign laws that form the basis of defining action in the United States as "criminal." The governments of the most aggressive "source countries" have been rightly criticised to one degree or another for their authoritarian ways, their endemic corruption, or their excessive regulation. Under the circumstances, should law enforcement and the courts use our criminal law to effectuate broad declarations of foreign ownership made by such countries so uncritically? [...] In countries like China and Greece, there is one law for "the ordinary joe" or the foreigner and quite another for those connected to the powerful.
Unlike America then.

Now of course the USA when it belatedly became a state party of the 1970 UNESCO Convention did so with an extremely significant proviso:
"The United States understands Article 3 not to modify property interests in cultural property under the laws of the States parties".
Readers of this blog should not need reminding that Article 3 is the most important element of the whole Convention:
"Article 3: The import, export or transfer of ownership of cultural property effected contrary to the provisions adopted under this Convention by the States Parties thereto, shall be illicit".
So basically what the US was doing wass saying,
"We'll agree to sign it, but stuff your Convention".
The vulgarism is deliberate because that is precisely what message this gives out to the rest of the world. It is arrogantly nationalist, American exclusionism of the worst kind. Why on earth did the USA ratify a Convention which it has no intention whatsoever of fully honouring?

Tompa continues in the same vein:
I've read that a large percentage of the Bulgarian population is allegedly involved in illicit metal detecting.
and on this basis concludes "potential criminal liability has obviously not changed behavior and other approaches, like that embodied in the PAS and Treasure Act should be considered". Ha! "I have read" seems to be rather a vague basis for dictating to a foreign government what it should "consider". Does Mr Tompa own a metal detector? I ask because I wonder whether he has any idea what a usable machine (not a toy) costs. I invite him to see where Bulgaria is on the CIA Factbook's CDP (PPP) list, and which countries are above it in the ranking, and consider again whether a large percentage of the Bulgarian population has the capital and leisure time to engage in this hobby. Perhaps he would like to cite the source of his statement?

UPDATE: Coin Dealer Dave Welsh discusses Peter Tompa's xenophobic ramblings mentioned above under the heading "Schizophrenic US Cultural Property Laws". It seems to me that the only schizophrenia here is a whole nation's no-questions-asked antiquities trade which wants the whole world to believe that it honours international agreements on the licit trade of artefacts but in fact will have none of it. While such cowboy tendencies exist in the US antiquities trade and among its rapacious collectors, America should do the decent thing and withdraw from merely paying lip-service to the 1970 UNESCO Convention until such time as public opinion is behind honouring it in full.

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