Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cambodian Import Restrictions Extended and Expanded

The Federal Register reports that current restrictions on Cambodian artifacts have been extended and expanded for another five years:

I attended the CPAC hearing earlier this year. Two issues stood out. First, the Cambodian Ambassador forthrightly admitted that the Cambodian military was responsible for looting many archaeological sites. One would think the US would ask the Cambodians to take basic self-help measures (like reigning in their own military) as a precondition for extending current import restrictions. However, once restrictions are imposed they obviously start taking on a life of their own.

Second, a representative from Heritage Watch, a group that evidently receives funding from the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), was the main spokesperson for those advocating the extension and expansion of the current restrictions. To me at least, this potentially raises serious conflict of interest issues as well as the question whether State Department money is being directly or indirectly used to lobby the State Department itself. For more, see:

The text of the new MOU with Cambodia has not yet been posted on the ECA web site. It will be interesting to see if the MOU at least makes the suggestion that the Cambodians crack down on their own military with respect to looting.

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