Wednesday 16 April 2014

Egypt Officially Asks U.S. for MoU to Protect Cultural Heritage

At last. Egypt Officially Asks U.S. for MoU to Protect Cultural Heritage' (15 Apr 2014). Egypt has made a formal request to have restrictions on the  import into the US of endangered archaeological material without the paperwork proving legal export. On June 2, the CPAC will begin a review of Egypt's proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU - not emergency restrictions). Not before time.

I am sure that, as in the case of every other one of these MOUs involving material they want to collect, a certain group of Black Hat Guys will be fighting this one tooth and nail.  Let them, let the world see what Philistines they, and the collectors that fail to oppose them, are. Exposing the no-questions-trade for what it is is the only way to clean up the antiquities market.

Between now and  May 14, when public comments close, the nasties will be comment-bombing Docket No. DOS-2014-0008 on the Federal eRulemaking Portal with all their 'arguments' against entering such an agreement with the Egyptians. No doubt they will be trotting out their normal whinges, whines and demands, and there is the prospect that political and anti-Moslem prejudices will be well visible alongside the usual antiquitist loose-thinking.

I would like to urge any US collectors intending to buy looted artefacts reading this to go to the docket and make fools of yourselves by following your lobbyists' instructions and opposing the Gubn'mint in the way they tell you. Show us who you are. Go,on, off you go now.

I'd like the rest of us who feel it is worth making a comment (just for the principle of it) to read the "four determinations" laid out by the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act and think about them for themselves (something the collectors seem incapable of doing) and then write something from their heart and mind which stands apart from the Philistines.  Rick St Hilaire gives the four as "including":
(A) [whether] the cultural patrimony of the State Party is in jeopardy from the pillage of archaeological or ethnological materials of the State Party; 
(B) [whether] the State Party has taken measures consistent with the Convention to protect its cultural patrimony; 
(C) [whether] --(i) the application of the import restrictions . . . with respect to archaeological or ethnological material of the State Party, if applied in concert with similar restrictions implemented, or to be implemented within a reasonable period of time, by those nations (whether or not State Parties [to the 1970 UNESCO Convention]) individually having a significant import trade in such material, would be of substantial benefit in deterring a serious situation of pillage, and(ii) remedies less drastic than the application of the restrictions set forth in such section are not available; and 
(D) [whether] the application of the import restrictions . . . in the particular circumstances is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes.
As every time this happens, the Black Hat Guys will try to present this as a competition ("there were more of us than them, but the Gubn'mint did not listen to us"). It is not a competition of course, nor is it a vote. But let the comments reflect that there are not just exploitive selfish Black Hat Guys thinking about Egypt and its cultural heritage. Their comment-bombing campaigns have been getting progressively weaker and ill-focussed, I'd very much like to see them given a run for their money this time. Come on, we all care about ancient Egypt, surely.

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