Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bill introduced that purports to protect cultural heritage in times of war

Congressmen Engel and Smith have introduced a bill aimed at  protecting cultural heritage in times of war.   The bill was evidently drafted with substantial input from the archaeological lobby, what with its promises of guaranteed funding for archaeological groups, and directions for additional bureaucratic focus in the area.  Troublingly, once again the underlying assumption is that the only stakeholders that matter are academics and governmental organizations.

The most controversial part authorizes restrictions on Syrian archaeological objects.  Although the bill purports to act consistently with other US law, it calls for key CPIA provisions relating to the scope and duration of restrictions to be ignored.  It also calls for CPAC to be bypassed (despite its current membership dominated by archaeological interests).

Given the bill's introduction just weeks before this Congress will adjourn, it's highly doubtful it will become law.  However, presumably the archaeological lobby will press for its reintroduction in the new Congress.

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