Professor Janet Ulph of Leicester Law School has written a handy and concise discussion of how fossils fit into the overall picture of cultural heritage crime.
This article explains why museums should avoid acquiring fossils which lack sufficient provenance and where the circumstances are suspicious. It argues that, regardless of whether one considers fossils to be cultural property or not, the Museums Association’s Code of Ethics should be followed not only in order to maintain public trust in museums but also to ensure compliance with current laws
This Note explores the domestic application of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Convention on the Means of prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970 (“UNESCO Convention” or “Convention”) by both the United States and Australia. The currently growing trend of returning looted artifacts to their countries of origin highlights the need for stricter law enforcement procedures and a possible reevaluation of the U.S. policy of the nonretroactive application of the UNESCO Convention, as applied to domestic law. As a major market country, the United States can lead the way in encouraging repatriation and in establishing better relations with source countries that do not have the resources to fight for their lost heritage on their own.
The Note argues that the non-retroactive features of the Convention lead to problems with it, which I’d argue is not really a major flaw of the Convention. Overall its a useful student note, but one that could have benefited from some editing by someone more familiar with the Convention and the literature examining it. Law students, if you are writing on cultural heritage, please get in touch. I’m happy to read drafts and offer suggestions on your writing and arguments.
Lyndel Prott, Honorary Prof. of International Heritage Law at the University of Queensland has authored a timely Op-Ed for the Conversation. In it she argues the 1970 UNESCO Convention has a role to play in impeding the flow of illicit art. But wonders about its impact on the recent spate of illicit material revealed in Australian Museums:
In September the Australian Prime Minister personally returned a 900-year-old bronze Dancing Shiva (Shiva Nataraja) to the Prime Minister of India which had been bought by the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) and was subsequently found to have been stolen from a temple in southern India.
Despite the passage of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 which implements for Australia the provisions of the 1970 Convention, the holding institutions have not undertaken the effort that they should have over the last 25 years.