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Subject: U.S. cultural property legislation

U.S. cultural property legislation

From: Penny Jones <pjones>
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000
The following appeared in USICOMOS and is reproduced here without

    Date sent:          Wed, 24 May 2000 10:16:20 -0400
    From: Donald Craib <donald_craib [at] saa__org>
    To:                 usicomos [at] world__std__com
    Subject: U.S. cultural property legislation
    Send reply to:      Donald Craib <donald_craib [at] saa__org>

    The archaeological community needs your help in defeating a bill
    introduced in the U.S. Senate (S.1696) that if passed would have
    a detrimental impact on the ability of countries to protect
    their cultural heritage.  In the next few weeks the Senate
    Finance Committee will consider whether to move forward with
    S.1696, and now is the time for senators to hear from the
    archaeological and preservation communities.

    Below is a brief summary of S.1696 as well as talking points for
    your letters.  Letters should be sent to Chairman William Roth,
    Senate Finance Committee, SD-219, Washington, D.C. 20510, or
    comments via email can be sent to: comments [at] roth__senate__gov
    Copies of letters should also be sent to your U.S. Senators as
    well.  Addresses, including email addresses for all U.S.
    Senators can be found at:

    If your Senator is a member of the Finance Committee, a separate
    letter should be sent to her/him.  To ascertain whether you
    Senator is on the Committee, visit:

    Thank you very much for your attention and if it is no trouble
    could you please send me a copy of any correspondence you send
    to the Senate.

    Donald Forsyth Craib
    Manager, Government Affairs, and Counsel
    Society for American Archaeology
    900 Second Street, N.E.
    Suite 12
    Washington, D.C.  20002
    Fax: 202-789-0284
    donald_craib [at] saa__org

        S. 1696: The Cultural Property Procedural Reform Act

        On October 6, 1999, Senator Patrick Moynihan (D-NY)
        introduced S. 1696. The legislation seeks to amend the
        Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 USC
        2600), which was passed by Congress in 1982.

        Through the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation
        Act (CCPIA), the United States became a party to the 1970
        UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing
        the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of
        Cultural Property (UNESCO Convention) that seeks to end the
        pillaging and destruction of important archaeological and
        cultural sites, and to protect the integrity of each
        country's cultural patrimony, including our own.

        If enacted in to law, S. 1696 would inhibit the United
        States' ability to enter into agreements with foreign
        nations to restrict the flow of undocumented antiquities,
        create a bureaucratic nightmare, and leave the CCPIA unable
        to carry out the purposes for which it was intended.
        Specifically, the amendments would:

            *   alter the language of the CCPIA so that it no longer
                conforms to the terms of the international UNESCO
                Convention, thereby eroding the U.S.'s ability to
                work cooperatively with other nations and to
                adequately protect its own rich and diverse cultural
                heritage via the reciprocal protection that the
                treaty provides;

            *   force the disclosure of confidential and highly
                sensitive information that would lead to the
                increased pillage of cultural sites and aid the
                illicit trade in antiquities;

            *   effectively convert the existing Cultural Property
                Advisory Committee, created to provide expert advice
                to the President, into a partisan haven for special

            *   require vastly increased staffing and funding within
                the U.S. Department of State during times of budget
                cuts and institute complex procedures for the
                committee that would curtail its ability to perform
                its statutory duties.

            *   impose significant administrative burdens on the
                Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which
                recommends to the President whether import
                restrictions on undocumented antiquities should be
                adopted.  The ultimate result would be to reverse
                the leading role that the United States has played
                since 1983 in fighting the illicit trafficking in
                cultural property.

        Valuable information about our world's past is being lost
        daily due to looting of archaeological sites in the United
        States, as well as abroad.  Passage of S. 1696 would
        increase the demand for looted items, increase pillage of
        archaeological sites, and rob humanity of its past.  The
        1970 UNESCO Convention that seeks to protect the world's
        cultural heritage was designed to protect nations' cultural
        patrimony, not to benefit art dealers and auction houses.

        The archaeological community urges you to oppose S. 1696 and
        demand that the Senate Finance Committee schedule a hearing
        on the legislation.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:59
                  Distributed: Thursday, May 25, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-59-008
Received on Wednesday, 24 May, 2000

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