Friday, April 4, 2014

Feldman on State Department's Administration of CPIA

Mark Feldman, the State Department's point person on accession to the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the passage of the CPIA, continues to express concerns with how State has administered the statute. In conjunction with the upcoming April 10th Panel Discussion on the  reform of our cultural policy, he has stated,

In recent years, the State Department has implemented the program vigorously believing strongly in its mission to help protect the cultural heritage of mankind and responding to the demands of foreign states.  This is commendable provided the Department complies with its statutory mandate.  The Executive is not authorized to establish import controls without international cooperation unless an emergency condition exists as defined by law, and Congress did not intend to authorize comprehensive import controls on all archeological objects exported from a country of origin without its permission.  The purpose of the program is not to keep art at home, but to help protect archeological resources from pillage; the findings required by the CCPIA were established for that purpose.

It is not clear how the State Department makes the findings required by law as it has never explained its interpretation of the statute or disclosed the bases for those findings.  I am concerned about the lack of transparency in the decision-making process and reports of administrative manipulation of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC).  If Bill Pearlstein is correct  that State has never filed CPAC reports with Congress, as required by law, that failing should be corrected by Congress.

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