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Laundering Antiques of Illegal Origin: Germany’s Struggle against Ratifying the UNESCO Convention of 1970

Michael Müller-Karpe (Germany) After 36 years of deliberation, Germany has announced that it will ratify the UNESCO /Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)/. However, the draft law, which the cabinet has passed and which soon will be approved by the parliament, is primarily oriented to the demands of an affluent antiquities dealers’ lobby. It perverts the goals of the...

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Legislative and Dealing following the Ratification of the 1970 UNESCO Convention : Situation in Switzerland and Great-Britain

Antoinette Maget (Paris, France) Following the ratification of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, Switzerland and Great Britain have transposed the recommendations expressed in two texts : Loi sur le Transfert des Biens Culturels in Switzerland and the Dealing with cultural Object (Offence) Act in Great Britain. In examining the situation before those texts came into force, the critics done to existing tools and the proceeding that led to the writing of those laws, all this brings to light the steps leading to the elaboration of the texts. And on the basis of documents produced during the time of preparation, a reflection is possible on the making of new texts in a subject like art dealing that is loaded with taboos and traditions. The study of the situation that prevails since these legislations came into force leaves a question hovering on the applicability and ‘efficiency’ of such measures: Answer to the faults denounced before? Pertinence in regard to the restriction of unlawful dealing? Reinforcement of parallel dealing? Echoes having been emitted since by the people touched by the exigencies of those texts? A comparative approach based as well on doctrine as on medias permit to conclude that these texts are above all the sign that consideration for other people patrimony has become a moral obligation for everybody and are also a glimpse of hope with regard to an improvement upon international cooperation in matters of the traffic of cultural objects and protection for the movable and real patrimony. Keywords: UNESCO 1970, New Legislations, Protection of Cultural Goods, Art Dealing Comparative...

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Role of the international and national non govermental organizations to protect the cultural heritage

Saadet Güner / Jale VELIBEYOGLU (Friends of Cultural Heritage (FOCUH) Association, Istanbul, Turkey) It is impossible for societies to protect their cultural diversities, tangible, intangible and oral cultural heritage without an appropriate protective environment for them, The conservation of cultural heritage is “the real and primary investment” of sustainable development of the countries. Cultural heritage are the heritage of the nations, humanity and the next generation. Hence cultural heritage should be conserved to address these concerns. After the World War II, many inter governmental institutions were founded in the World to determine the strategies and policies to conserve the cultural heritage all over the World. The international organized civil society getting together in a Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to work on the protection of the cultural heritage is considered as one of the important partners for the definition and implementation of these strategies and policies. They take also an important role to define and to raise public and political awareness for the protection of the cultural heritage. In parallel with the foundation of the international NGOs, national organized civil society gathered under different NGOs umbrella to protect cultural properties. National NGOs are deemed as the important social structuring to reach the national and international funds allocated for the protection of the cultural heritage. EU and World Bank Social Risk Mitigation Project (SRMP) Funds are allocated to them as the samples to these international funds. In the first part of the paper, it is talked about briefly the intergovernmental organizations and international NGOs. In the second part of the paper is given some information on national NGOs in Turkey that they utilize international funds to organize the projects for the protection of the cultural heritage in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Purpose: The main purpose of this work is to incite the society to get together in a Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to utilize the international funds in order to protect the cultural heritage. Methodology/Approach: It is planned to reach the objective by raising public awareness through different communication tools to utilize international funds in order to protect the cultural heritage. The audiovisual presentation in this Congress is considered as one...

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The UNESCO-Convention of 1970 – an Austrian criminological perspective

Anita Gach (Austria) The Federal Criminal Police Office Vienna is the center of the national as well as international search for stolen cultural property. As Interpol’s central bureau the Federal Criminal Police Office Vienna is permanently dealing with international inquiries concerning missing resp. stolen cultural goods. Nonetheless, in Austria cultural assets and archaeological goods from various countries show up on the country’s illicit antiquities market on a regular basis. This includes e.g. sacral sculptures from the Czech Republic, coins and archaeological finds from Turkey and Bulgaria etc. By presenting some case studies an overview on the problem of cultural property crimes will be...

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The ‘Grand Compromise’: A Proposal for How Museums and Archaeologists Can Cooperate To Confront the Problem of Looted Art

Bernard Frischer (USA) In the nineteenth century, liberalism characterized the law codes of many Mediterranean countries rich in cultural heritage such as Italy, Turkey, and Greece. Under the liberal regime, museums in countries like France and Britain could send archaeological expeditions to sites and repatriate as many of the significant finds as they wished. As the nineteenth century proceeded, first in Turkey and then in other countries, a more restrictive approach to cultural heritage was adopted, culminating in the Italian law of 1909. Under this new regime, foreign museums could no longer export works found in archaeological projects they sponsored and so, inevitably two things happened: museums ceased to sponsor excavations; and a black market in looted art sprung up, as happens whenever the law attempts to suppress behavior that humans find natural (such as drinking alcohol or collecting valuable artifacts). The twentieth century was thus a disaster for archaeologists for many reasons: it was harder to raise funding for new projects; existing archaeological sites were systematically attacked and looted by tombaroli; and objects started to fill our museums without provenance, which made interpretation and even evaluation of authenticity difficult. A change for the better was signaled by the UNESCO convention of 1970 (“Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property”). The recent Marion True case in Italy and the looting of the Baghdad Museum after the US-led invasion of Iraq focused the world’s attention on the problem of looted art in a welcome way. Now the time has come for a pragmatic solution to the problem of how to prevent the looting of our cultural heritage while at the same time making it possible for museums outside the Mediterranean area to continue to build their collections in a responsible way. The purpose of this talk is to propose a “grand compromise” between the liberalism of the nineteenth century and the repressive laws of the twentieth: an arrangement whereby museums can once again sponsor archaeological excavations and exhibit the finds, but in which the host country continues to maintain ownership. In the talk, I will present the details...

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UNESCO-Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) – the status quo

Chair: Friedrich Schipper (Uni Vienna, Austria) The illegal excavation of important archaeological sites, and the massive looting of ancient cultural and religious sites, including artifacts from churches and museums, is taking place all over the world. Scientific investigation about, conservation of and public access to our common cultural heritage is increasingly endangered. The monetary value of illicit trade in cultural assets must be calculated in billions of euros, matching the size of the illicit trade in arms, drugs, menial labor and sex slavery, as well as in rare and endangered animals. The damage to cultural property is inestimable. In the last few years even Austria has developed as a major center for illicit trade between east and west. So far, we believe, the most effective and long-range international instrument against illicit trade in cultural property is the “Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property” adopted by UNESCO in 1970. Between 1970 and 1983, the convention was ratified by more than 100 countries such as Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Finland as well as Australia and Canada. Other countries with large and important art markets hesitated to ratify the convention for many years. For example, the USA finally ratified it in 1983. More than 36 years later, the ratification of the convention is still due in Austria. Until recently, Austria was in “good company” with other countries, inside as well as outside Europe, in delaying ratification. But in the last year, the last western nations have made a push toward ratification: Great Britain, Switzerland – and recently, a draft bill on the ratification of the 1970 Convention has been delivered to the Deutsche Bundestag. The regulations in these countries that mean to support the convention and put it into play differ: this has caused experts in the fields of cultural heritage to criticize the individual rules of implementation. In Germany, for example, the draft was ironically named the “Raubgrabungsförderungsgesetz“ [“The Illegal Excavation Endorsement Law”] because its enactment would result in the opposite of what the UNESCO-Convention was designed to achieve: instead of the protection of cultural property...

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