March 19, 2012
Thank you to all who wrote letters in support of these MoU extensions!
From April 24-27, 2012, the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) met to consider renewing the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the Republics of Guatemala and Mali by which the United States would help preserve these countries’ rich archaeological heritages. Guatemala is also requesting an amendment that would include the colonial Period in the MoU. Public comments are an important statement of support for the MoUs.
The Public Notice also indicated that during the closed portion of the meeting, the Committee continued to review the import restriction request from Bulgaria; however, public comment is only requested for the review of the Guatemala and Mali MOU extension requests.
The looting of sites damages archaeological contexts, hampering archaeologists’ study of ancient remains and distorting our reconstruction of the past. Because our understanding of the past is dependent on our ability to recover, study, and interpret ancient sites and artifacts in their original context, the preservation of sites is critical to the creation of archaeological knowledge, as well as to the maintenance of cultural heritage. A commitment to stopping the import of looted cultural material will help to prevent the destruction of the archaeological record.
What is a MoU?
In 1983, Congress passed the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA) that enables the United States to enter into agreements, known as Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), with individual countries to further protection of cultural resources. This legislation established the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), which considers requests for the initiation or renewal of a MoU. An important component of each MoU is a commitment by the United States to restrict the import of undocumented archaeological objects. The goal is to reduce looting, which in Guatemala and Mali continues to destroy irreplaceable knowledge about the ancient world. To learn more about the history of the CPIA and the process by which a MoU is agreed to and renewed, you can download this overview.
The AIA has prepared two documents with more information about CPAC and MoUs:
State Department Websites