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Ethical Conflict Surrounding Cambodian Cultural Property

This year, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act 97 P.L. 446, 19 USC 2601 et seq. Pursuant to the language of the Act, a Cultural Property Advisory Committee (the “Committee”) undertakes investigations of requests to implement agreements between the United States and other State Parties seeking to protect their cultural property. The Committee prepares reports with respect to each request and submits them to the President of the United States to review and decide whether to enter into a bi-latter agreement to apply import  restrictions on the cultural patrimony or not. The Committee is made up of 11 people: 2 members representing the museum community (M); 3 experts in the fields of archaeology, anthropology  ethnology, etc (A); 3 experts in the international sale of cultural property (T); 3 representatives representing the interest of the general public (P).

Current make up of the panel is as following:

Name Type
Nina M. Archabal M
Barbara Bluhm Kaul P
Lothar von Falkenhausen A
Patty Gerstenblith, Chair P
Rosemary A. Joyce A
Jane A. Levine T
Katharine L. Reid M
Marta A. de la Torre P
Nancy C. Wilkie A
James W. Willis T
Vacant T

Apparently Cambodia has asked that Jane A. Levine, head of Worldwide Compliance at Sotheby’s, to recuse herself from its deliberations on import restrictions for Cambodian antiquities because Sotheby’s is currently involved in a high profile litigation over ownership of a Khmer statue from Cambodia. In addition. next week, between February 27 and March 1, 2013, the Cultural Property Advisory Committee will hold meetings at the Department of State to “review the proposal to extend the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from Cambodia from the Bronze Age Through the Khmer Era (MOU) [Docket No. DOS-2012-0063].”

Details about the story are available from the New York Times article, cited below.

Source: The New York Times; Archaeological Institute of America; Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs;