The illicit traffic of cultural objects in the Mediterranean
Title: The illicit traffic of cultural objects in the Mediterranean
Series/Report no.: EUI AEL; 2009/09; Cultural Heritage Project
Ongoing high profile litigation in Europe and the United States against museum officials and art dealers reveals that the illicit trade in cultural heritage is flourishing rather than abating. Ironically, the disparity between the failure of states to sign on to and implement certain multilateral agreements, and escalating cultural loss is particularly significant in the Mediterranean region, because of the cultural wealth located in the Mediterranean Sea and the countries which surround it. This working paper focuses on evolving multilateral efforts and national responses in the Mediterranean region to control the illicit trade in cultural heritage, particularly underwater heritage. It identifies areas of policy and law reform to encourage the uptake and implementation of existing multilateral instruments and the creation of regional initiatives to curb the illicit traffic of cultural objects. The collected contributions fall into four discernible categories. The first part contains a paper prepared by Francesco Francioni and myself and serves as a backgrounder outlining the current international and European legal protection afforded cultural objects excavated from the earth and seabed. Part II focuses specifically on the protection of underwater cultural heritage. Jeanne-Marie Panayotopoulos examines the legal regimes established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the specialist instrument, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Amy Strecker provides detailed analysis of the shortcoming of existing legal protections with reference to the ‘Black Swan’ case. Tullio Scovazzi rounds off this section by considering national perspectives, with particular reference to the Italian experience. Part III broadens the scope of potential legal protection to other specialist international law regimes. Valentina Vadi critically examines law applicable to the recovery of shipwrecks under the law of salvage and law of finds, UNCLOS and the Underwater Heritage Convention. Federico Lenzerini details the possibilities of the World Heritage Convention in the control of the illicit traffic of cultural objects. Sana Ouechtati extends these concerns to the area of international trade law through her exploration of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Part IV, the final part, emphasizes the ever-present difficulties in facilitating the return of illicit removed cultural objects through existing legal instruments. Andrzej Jakubowski provides a private international law perspective by focussing on the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention and EC Directive 93/7. Alessandro Chechi analyses the operation of bilateral agreements, encouraged under the 1970 UNESCO Convention, with particular reference to the existing agreements between the United States and Italy, and Italy and Libya for the return of the ‘Venus of Cyrene’. Robert Peters explores the potential of alternative, ‘creative’ modes of resolving restitution claims including the recent return of the Axum obelisk to Ethiopia.
Subject: European law; Fundamental/human rights; Free movement; International agreements; Regional policy; Trade policy; Mediterranean, law
Table of Contents:
I. International and European legal regimes for protection of cultural objects -- II. Specialist legal regimes for the protection of movable underwater heritage -- III. Other international regimes for the protection of cultural heritage
Type of Access: openAccess