In mid-May, the Cultural Committee of the US Commission to UNESCO (see: http://www.state.gov/p/io/unesco/) met to to discuss cultural property issues. (see: http://www.state.gov/p/io/unesco/c26299.htm) The committee's responsibility is to make recommendations to the US Commission which will eventually carry the recommendations to UNESCO. The final recommendations of the US Commission are now available on line. See: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/107531.pdf (recommendations of culture committee).
Recommendations 3 and observations 1 and 2 and recommendations 4, 5, and 6 are of particular interest to those concerned about processes before the Cultural Property Advisory Committee:
Recommendation 3. The USG should consider its position on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention.
Observation 1. The U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) process should maintain adequate transparency, and the advice given by CPAC implement all the obligations of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and its U.S. implementing statute.
Observation 2. U.S. implementation of the multinational requirements of both the CPAC Convention and its implementing statute should reflect the balance of considerations in those documents.
Recommendation 4. The USG should encourage UNESCO to study the potential of improved and expanded legal markets in reducing looting and theft, and illegal markets.
Recommendation 5. UNESCO should encourage source nations to protect antiquities and sites within their territories and promote capacity building to this end.
· UNESCO should study alternatives such as long-term loans and exchanges (e.g. ten years or more), for the sharing of cultural property among all nations without transfer of ownership.
· Possible exchanges might include joint participation in archeological projects, training and infrastructure support.
Those concerned with the way CPAC operates should applaud the Committee's efforts to focus the State Department bureaucracy on issues of legal markets, transparency of CPAC, multinational responses and long-term loans. Whether these recommendations will ever be acted upon, however, remains to be seen, particularly given the upcoming change in administration of government.