Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Haiti: UNESCO to the Rescue?

According to a recent report, Irina Bokova, UNESCO's new Director General, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has called for "a campaign to protect art collections in the Caribbean country's damaged museums and historical sites 'so that we don't find these objects in Christie's tomorrow.'" See

The article goes onto to state that "Bokova appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for security forces to protect Haitian heritage sites and urged a Security Council resolution temporarily banning trade in Haitian cultural property, to be monitored by Interpol."

While I'm all for protecting Haitian cultural heritage sites from looting, it seems to me that the call for a ban in trade in Haitian artifacts smacks of some of the otherworldly thinking that sometimes comes out of this annual meeting of the world's elites.

Church groups often sell Haitian paintings to benefit the poor of the country. One might suspect formerly wealthy Haitians who were ruined financially by the quake might just want to sell some of their art too.

Does UNESCO want to preclude this all because,

"This heritage is an invaluable source of identity and pride for the people on the island and will be essential to the success of their national reconstruction" ?

Perhaps so....

Addendum: For more on the situation on the ground in Haiti focusing on the fate of art works in private galleries, see

1 comment:

Ed Snible said...

Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen) had a good post on Haitian art: Will the price of Haitian art go up or down?