Sunday, October 23, 2011

Setting the Record Straight

In a recent post to his controversial blog, anticollecting archaeologist Paul Barford opined:

"It seems Dave ("send a message to Congress") Welsh also does not recognise the procedural difference between emergency regulations and the MOUs envisaged in the CPIA." The word 'also' refers to Mr. Barford's immediately preceding post, in which he said "In any case, Tompa is being misleading when he says that such measures always need CPAC input, emergency regulations do not, do they?"

The "emergency regulations" to which Mr. Barford refers appear to be those described in a post made nine months ago to Ricardo St. Hilaire's blog:

"Thinking Ahead: An Emergency Protection for Egyptian Cultural Antiquities Act"

In this post Mr. St. Hilaire, concerned about developing unrest in Egypt at that time, advocated legislation similar to the the Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2004, and stated:

"An Emergency Protection for Egyptian Cultural Antiquities Act should be contemplated even at this early stage of events in Egypt. Such a statute could resemble the emergency protection law covering Iraq and be worded in the following way:

Emergency Protection for Egyptian Cultural Antiquities Act of 2011


(a) AUTHORITY- The President may exercise the authority of the President under section 304 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2603) with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Egypt without regard to whether Egypt is a State Party under that Act, except that, in exercising such authority, subsection (c) of such section shall not apply.

(b) DEFINITION- In this section, the term `archaeological or ethnological material of Egypt means cultural property of Egypt and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, or religious importance illegally removed from locations in Egypt since January 25, 2011.

The authority of the President under section 3002(a) shall terminate on January 31, 2016."

What Mr. St. Hilaire proposed was the passage of an Act of Congress authorizing imposition of emergency import restrictions on Egyptian antiquities. So far as I am aware, no such Act was introduced during 2011.

What Peter Tompa and I referred to was something completely different:

"New strategy to prevent illegal trade in Egyptian antiquities

by Nevine El-Aref (Sunday 23 Oct 2011)

In an attempt to tighten security measures on antiquities trafficking, Egypt is to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United States enabling the Customs and National Security Department in the USA to track and catch antiquities smugglers in the country. They will also be able to take all legal procedures to return illegally smuggled antiquities to Egypt.


Ms. El-Aref refers to prospective issuance of a Memorandum of Understanding between the USA and Egypt which would indeed (as correctly reported by Peter Tompa and then subsequently discussed in this blog) require a formal request from the government of Egypt, followed by the CPAC process required by the 1983 US CCPIA implementing US accession to the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

Mr. Barford is the one who does not correctly understand the situation and whose remarks have been misleading. The State Department does not have authority to issue "emergency regulations" imposing import restrictions without a) passage of an Act of Congress specifically authorizing those import restrictions, or b) receiving a request for assistance under the 1970 UNESCO Convention from another signatory nation, followed by the CPAC process.


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