Thursday, 28 May 2015

UNGA draft resolution "Saving the cultural heritage of Iraq"

Here is the text of the UNGA draft resolution Saving the cultural heritage of Iraq. I guess protecting the cultural heritage of Syria will be a separate one then? The UN seems to accept as proven that the sale of antiquities here is "generating income for terrorist groups, which can support their recruitment efforts and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks" (preamble). Glasgow's Donna Yates will probably not be pleased to hear that. Anyway the sixteen articles include:
9. Calls upon all States to assist the Iraqi authorities in fighting against trafficking in cultural property illegally excavated from archaeological sites and taken from museums, libraries, archives and manuscript collections, as required under Security Council resolutions 1483 (2003) and 2199 (2015), including through international cooperation regarding the restitution of stolen or illicitly exported cultural property, as appropriate, as well as in criminal justice matters and in meeting the challenge of repairing, restoring and conserving damaged or destroyed cultural heritage when security conditions allow; 
So that's an MOU from you, then, America. Note the phrase "as appropriate". Dealers and their lobbyists, it seems, rarely do.
10. Expresses concern that ISIL and other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida are generating income from engaging directly or indirectly in the looting and trafficking of Iraqi cultural heritage items, which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks;
Article 11 reminds of the obligations placed on Member States by Security Council resolution 2199 (2015) and related regulations.
12. Urges all States to take appropriate measures to ensure that all actors involved in the trade in cultural property, including, but not limited to, auction houses, art dealers, art collectors and museum professionals, are required to provide verifiable documentation of provenance as well as export certificates related to any cultural property imported, exported or offered for sale, including through the Internet;
Now there is something to gladden the heart of the lobbyists of the dugup antiquities trade. For years they've been banging on about the 1970 UNESCO Convention (and the US's atavistic CPIA) requiring "provenance" when they do not. But making silly claims like this year after year is a source of not a few bucks from the dealers' associations and other sponsors. Now the UN has obliged and added "provenance" (whatever that means here) so they can make some more money without even changing their tune. OK, UNESCO, time to rewrite that 1960-ish document the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

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