Lyndel Prott— 2003 Outstanding Public Service Award
Since 2001, Lyndel Prott has been the Director of UNESCO’s Division of Cultural Heritage, which carries out projects to protect the world’s cultural heritage, including the safeguarding of archaeological sites and monuments and the strengthening of museum operations. Before her promotion to Director in 2001, Dr. Prott headed the Division’s International Standards Unit, which is responsible for the legal protection of the cultural heritage, and which provides the Secretariat for the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to Its Countries of Origin or Its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation.
Dr. Prott received a Dr. Juris from the University of Tübingen, Licence spèciale en Droit international from The Brussels Free University, and a B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Sydney. From 1991 to 1996, she held a Personal Chair in Cultural Heritage Law at the University of Sydney; she has held academic positions at Syracuse University, the Hague Academy of International Law, and Stanford University; and she has acted as a legal consultant to UNESCO, ICOM, the Council of Europe, and the Commonwealth of Australia. Among the many honors Dr. Prott has received is Officer of the Order of Australia.
She is the author of more than 150 publications in the fields of law and the cultural heritage, jurisprudence, and international and comparative law. Her books include the major, multi-volume work, Law and the Cultural Heritage, written with her husband Patrick O’Keefe, and the Commentary on the UNIDROIT Convention.
A tireless proponent of the protection and return of displaced cultural property, Dr. Prott was a member of the UNIDROIT Study Group on the International Protection of Cultural Property and helped promote the adoption of the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995). She has sought and won additional State Parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Recently, she was instrumental in the successful effort to adopt the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001).
In connection with the 1995 New York symposium, “The Spoils of War,” Dr. Prott proposed eight “Principles for the Resolution of Disputes concerning Cultural Heritage Displaced during the Second World War.” Since that time, these principles have been used by governments in negotiations for returns.
Lyndel Prott is one of the most intelligent, energetic, and effective forces in the world today campaigning for the protection of the archaeological and cultural heritage of the world’s peoples. The year 2003 marks the 20th anniversary of the United States’ implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention. It is especially appropriate that in 2003 the Archaeological Institute of America has chosen to honor Dr. Lyndel Prott with its award for outstanding public service.