Thursday 15 August 2019

"Committed" United States and Algeria Sign Cultural Property Agreement

"The United States has been unwavering in its commitment to protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world and to combat the trafficking in cultural property that funds criminal and terrorist networks", the press release enthuses:
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce and Algerian Minister of Culture Meriem Merdaci will sign a landmark bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on cultural property protection on Thursday, August 15, at 11:00 a.m. at the Department of State. This agreement places U.S. import restrictions on categories of Algerian archaeological material dating from 2.4 million years ago to approximately 1750 A.D.,[...] The joint commitment of the United States and Algeria to protect Algeria’s heritage and accessibility for future generations promotes economic development around sustainable tourism
Really? The thing is just signing these selective MOUs under the wonky CCPIA is in no way any kind of commitment to "protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world" when there are over 195 countries in the world today - 90% of whom - though being states party to the same 1970 UNESCO Convention as the US - have not been deemed worthy of an MOU. When it comes across trafficked material at its borders, the US does absolutely nothing to investigate and counter or block the funding of those criminal and terrorist networks it claims the trade in cultural property is part of. Nothing - look at Kapoor, who arrested him, who is trying him? Would this have happened if one of the biggest participants in the trade in illicit artefacts from SE Asia had remained in the US as a donor to US museums? I doubt it. The US still has no MOU with India, and Kapoor-handled objects are still on display in US collections, both public and private.  As for 'promoting sustainable tourism', I am not sure that is really what the world needs at the moment.  

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