Next week in Athens at the New Acropolis Museum, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with UNESCO will sponsor a conference on “Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin”. Here is an excerpt of the press release by UNESCO:
The conference participants will reflect upon and exchange experiences on the issue of the return of cultural property, examining several successful return cases, including: the Axum Obelisk from Italy to Ethiopia, the return of the Stone Birds of Great Zimbabwe from Germany to Zimbabwe, the return of human remains to the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal tribe of South Australia, the “Utimut” cooperation project for the return of cultural objects from Denmark to Greenland, the reunification of a Neo-Sumerian alabaster figure (cooperation project between the Louvre Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of New York) and the case of the ceremonial mask of the Kwakwaka’wakw people of Vancouver Island between the British Museum and Canada.
On the second day, four thematic workshops will debate:
• Ethical and Legal Aspects,
• Mediation and Cultural Diplomacy,
• Museums, Sites and Cultural Context
• International Cooperation and Research.
Discussions will also take place on ways to strengthen the action of the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation.
Established by UNESCO in 1978, the Intergovernmental Committee provides a framework for discussion and negotiation on the return or restitution of cultural property. The committee, composed of 22 elected member states, remains strictly advisory, establishing forums for debate and offering non-legally binding recommendations.
Proceedings will be published and made available for the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Committee, scheduled for June 2009. The return and restitution of cultural property will also be the theme of another meeting to be held in November this year in Seoul (Republic of Korea), where an extraordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee will be held to mark its 30th anniversary.
* The New Acropolis Museum, 2-4 Makriyanni Str, 117 42, Athens Greece
A Program of the events is here, and an impressive cast of heritage thinkers and experts have been assembled, including at least two fellow bloggers, Lee Rosenbaum and David Gill who will hopefully share their thoughts when they return.