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Cultural property protection policy failure

Papaer presented at the All Art and Cultural Heritage Law Conference in Geneva, June 2014

Donna Yates

on 25 June 2015

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Transcript of Cultural property protection policy failure

Cultural property protection policy failure
International cultural policy protection (CPP)
Structured around the 1970 and 1972 UNESCO conventions
Encourage a policy of site protection at source
Focus on recovery and restitution
Neil Brodie
Donna Yates
Syria (Iraq? Jordan?)
1. Protection at source
4. Recovery and restitution
1. Protection at source
3. Country-specific policy interventions
2. Reactive policy interventions
2. Reactive policy interventions
4. Recovery and restitution
3. Country-specific policy interventions
Nearly 30 years on, it appears this policy regime isn't working
Conceived of to include public awareness, professional training and physical protection
But is this sustainable long term?
10,000 archaeological sites
1 guard for every 5 sites preconflict
Resources concentrated on a few 'significant' sites
Protection dissipates during conflict when it is needed most
Little done to stop trade in Syrian objects in 90s and 00s
Trade networks already existed when conflict began in 2011
ICOM Red List for Syrian artifacts didn't come out until 2013
International funding for heritage protection in 2014
Protection and support only comes when it is 'too late'. Not preventative.
International attention focused on Iraq in 90s and 00s; Syria was ignored.

Now Syria is the focus and Iraq is ignored.

Everyone ignores badly-looted Jordan.
Policy follows the media?
A focus on return does not protect archaeological sites and contexts.

Small-scale returns of Iraqi items did not deter the amassing of large collections.

There remains little risk in collecting looted antiquities: much more is looted than is ever returned.
Restitution does not fix what has already been broken.
Strong laws and stiff penalties against looting and trafficking since 1906

No registry of sellers taken since the 1980s
Minimal protection at many sites
Training shortfalls
Almost no arrests or prosecutions
Communities know the law and feel under served.
Strict regulation that can't be enforced is useless.
Several (but not all) Latin American countries have cultural property MoUs with each other states.
Implemented after public looting scandals and decades after looting became endemic
Doesn't stop the networks from forming in the first place.
Objects cross land borders: find a favourable route out
Weaknesses in national and international protection are exploited.
Bolivia and Peru have MoUs with the US. Ecuador and Argentina do not. What about objects (even Bolivian or Peruvian ones) imported from those countries?
Country specific agreements don't reflect the realities of international networks.
This is at odds with UNESCO's own idea of 'cultural heritage of humanity'
Emphasis on recovery doesn't protect sites and requires working partnerships between countries.

Unrelated spats between countries derails return operations.

Recovery isn't possible if countries hate each other.
What would improved policy be like?
Move away from country-by country implementations.
Focus on the disruption of international networks.
Financial and organisational burden not on developing countries.
More work on curbing demand.
Neil Brodie
Donna Yates
Trafficking Culture Project
University of Glasgow
Trafficking Culture Project
University of Glasgow
Full transcript