14 March, 2008
Lawyers, museum professionals, archaeologists, academics and cultural property experts will meet in Athens on March 17-18 for an international conference on the “Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin”.
The two-day conference, which is organized by the Greek Culture Ministry in cooperation with UNESCO, will be opened in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis, the president of the General Conference of UNESCO, George Anastassopoulos and UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Francoise Riviere.
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 and 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.
Source: Athens News Agency