Showing posts with label Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. Show all posts

December 28, 2018

Dick Drent returns to Amelia this summer to teach "risk management and crime prevention in museum security” at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection

By Edgar Tijhuis

In 2019, the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection will be held from May 31 through August 15, 2019 in the heart of Umbria in Amelia, Italy. In the months leading up to the start of the program, a number of this year’s professors will be interviewed. 


The second in this series is Dick Drent, who teaches ARCA’s “Practical Approaches to Safeguarding Culture: Security Measures and Risk Assessment for Museums and Cultural Heritage Sites” course. Dick Drent was also one of the ARCA trainers in the UNESCO training "Countering Antiquities Trafficking in the Mashreq" in Lebanon for participants from UNESCO member states in April 2018. 


Dick Drent
I met Dick at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands while he was on his way to Bangkok where he is consulting on the River Museum Bangkok (RMB) project and will be training their staff in proactive security. The RMB will open in July 2019, and will be the first museum in Thailand that will exhibit works from loaned international art collections.

Can you tell us something about your background and work? 

My background is based on law enforcement with the Dutch police, where I worked for 25 years, mainly involving international investigations hinging on organised crime. In that capacity I worked for 15 years in the Undercover and Sensitive Operations Unit on counter-terrorism projects and on setting up, running and managing (inter)national infiltration projects. I also worked as the Liaison Officer for the Dutch Police to the UN War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague, a tribunal set up in 1992 for the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law set up following the war in what is the former Yugoslavia.

In 2005 I was approached by the Van Gogh Museum to serve as their Director of Security, responsible for dealing with their threat and risk issues as it relates to the museum’s complex physical security as well as it's the museum’s approach to organizational, construction and electronic risk management. Leading up to my hire, these were not sufficient for a museum of this calibre and had resulted in the 2002 burglary of the museum in which two Van Gogh paintings were stolen. So, I was mandated to change and overhaul the museum’s overall security which I did, developing and implementing a new proactive security strategy which effectively assessed risk and minimized the potential of future breaches. Next to that I was pinpointed as chief investigator with the goal of getting the museum's two stolen Van Gogh paintings back. In 2016 after many years of tracing and tracking tips, gathering information, connecting with informants and conducting investigations all over Europe we were ultimately successful.

Press Conference about the recovery of the two stolen Van Gogh paintings
Fourteen years after the robbery, and in close cooperation with Italy’s Guardia Di Finanza of Naples, we were able to recover the paintings at a house connected to one of the bosses of the Camorra organized crime clans in Naples. There, the paintings were seized by law enforcement authorities and when authenticated, were returned to the Van Gogh Museum where they have been restored and are now once again a part of the museum’s collection.

In 2014 I left the Van Gogh Museum to further develop my own business enterprise where I continue to be successful in an advisory and consultancy capacity, a segment of which is specialized on providing security and risk training as it relates to protecting cultural heritage. 

I am also a business associate for two firms where I provide security and risk expertise outside the realm of cultural heritage. There I serve as a project leader for special operations in relation to asset tracing, tracking and recovery of stolen or embezzled goods or money, whether these are artefacts or goods, also looking at financial irregularities relating to large fraud investigations worldwide. 

So my work life was, and still is, very engaged and energizing. I love my work and have never seen it really as work. It is more as the Dutch say: “a hobby grown out of craftsmanship”. As a result, I can count the number of days that I have been unsatisfied with my job on one hand. So never a dull moment the last 42 years of my workable life. 

What do you feel is the most relevant part of your course? 

As it relates to my course with ARCA, aside from creating security awareness in the broadest sense of the word, especially for those participants who have no security experience in their backgrounds, the most relevant part of my course involves a change of mindset. 

This is done by literally letting them climb into the skin of the criminal or terrorist, where they are asked to assume an adversarial role or point of view in order to understand how easy it is to commit an art-related crime. By considering, how they themselves would set about attacking a museum or an archaeological site or infiltrating a private institution with the intent and goal of stealing or destroying something, they are better able to see and understand the site's security vulnerabilities, by simulating a real-world attack to evaluate the effectiveness of a site’s security defences and policies.

What do you hope participants will get out of your course? 

I want them to understand that the protection of cultural heritage doesn’t begin with chasing stolen, falsified, counterfeited, looted, plundered or destroyed art or heritage. I want them to learn that it starts with thinking about threats and threat actors and and risk in advance of an incident and exploring how we can prevent incidents before they happen. By changing from a reactive method of security as we know it, ergo, reacting to incidents after they occur, where, per definition, you are already too late to have prevented it), to a proactive strategy is what is needed for comprehensive security strategies. 

Proactivity involves identifying the hazardous conditions that can give rise to all manner of risk, which we address in a variety of methods, including predictive profiling, red teaming, utilizing security intelligence and other proactive approaches which lead to the actual protection of cultural heritage. 

A second thing I know for sure the participants come away with from my course is that when finished they will have a strong understanding of how security should, or more correctly, has to be an intrinsic part of any organisation. It’s not unusual for those who study under me, to say afterwards that they will never be able to walk into museum again without looking for the security issues at hand and in their head making a survey how easy it would be too…… 

For them, the days of solely enjoying a museum or art will be over. Forever.

Dick Drent with one of the ARCA classes
What would a typical day be like in your classroom? 

A typical lecture day would be an interactive one, where there is a place to discuss opinions, evaluate or change attitudes or approaches, a time to listen and a time to motivate while we study some serious stuff. I sometimes use humour in the process, as it’s a way of capturing and maintaining a participant’s attention while giving and exchanging information so that at the end of the day participants leave my lectures wanting to know even more about security.

While each year participants are very enthusiastic about your courses, is there anything you learn from them in class? 

Every course I’ve taught in the last nine years has made me aware that security is not a static thing but very dynamic. And every year I add good things I have gleaned from that year’s participants for use in the course the following year. So, the participants help me improve the course and the output, which is something I value.

In anticipation of your courses, what book, article, or movie would you recommend to participants? 

Next to reading everything that is mentioned on the advanced reading lists we provide to participants, I would highly recommend reading the book: Managing the Unexpected (2007) by Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe. This book discusses the ideas behind the High Reliability Organization (HRO) and it's principles. In my opinion every organization that is involved in the protection of cultural heritage, should be managed as an HRO. Read it and you will find out why.

Dick Drent teaching in Lebanon
What makes the yearly ARCA program so unique?

Me teaching there, of course. :o) But seriously, the uniqueness of the ARCA program for its participants, and the professional experiences of the lecturers make it exceptional. But also the conference in the middle of the program, in the mediaeval town of Amelia makes this a truly unique opportunity which should not be missed as participants get to meet not only the eleven professors attached to the courses but a host of other experts from around the globe who are working in this sector. Combined this covers everything you ever wanted to know to have a broad comprehensive knowledge base of art crime, in the broadest sense of the word.

Which other course in the program would you love to follow yourself and why? 

“The High Stakes World of Art Policing, Protection and Investigation” by Dick Ellis. Because, as a former police officer, the approach of this topic by Dick Ellis is very intriguing. Especially exploring the ways and possibilities of utilizing police investigative findings and prosecutorial decisions as a door opener to convince the “holder” of art that is stolen, lost, disappeared or on another illegal way in his or her possession, that it would be better to give it back to its rightful owners.

Dick Ellis
Dick Ellis is, like me a retired cop, more than that, he is the founder of The Metropolitan Police's Art and Antiquities Squad at New Scotland Yard who now has a vibrant private practice recovering stolen artworks.  He has been responsible for a range of recoveries of famous works of art all over the world and is the director of the Art Management Group which he co-founded in 2005. 

He served in Special Operations at New Scotland Yard where he founded and ran the Art & Antiques Squad until 1999 when he left the police to become General Manager of Christie’s Fine Art Security Services. In 2000 he became Managing Director of Trace recovery services running a database and magazine for stolen art and antiques. Recoveries include Munch’s The Scream, Beit Collection paintings, Audubon’s Birds of America stolen from Russia’s State Library and over 7,000 antiquities looted from China and Egypt. Since 2008 he has been an Expert Advisor to Government on International Loans to Museums.

Is there anything you can recommend about the program or about it being in Amelia or Umbria? 

An added value to your investment in following this program in Amelia is the opportunity to develop one’s network with other participants and with all the professors and lectures who come to Umbria because of ARCA and the ARCA conference. This sometimes isn’t obvious in the beginning, but I am still in contact with a lot of the participants and presenters from the previous year’s courses and conferences and have also been able to connect them to other people in my network long after the summer is over. So, for a future career, even it is not clear yet what or how that career will look, this program offers opportunities too good not to make use of.!

Tip: Print business cards to give to the people you contact and ask for theirs. Make them notice you, by your questions and drive to learn.

Dick Drent discussing proactive security at a conference at the Smithsonian
Regarding Amelia, Umbria and of course Italy as a whole, there are not enough words even to begin to explain why someone should travel around in this big playground where every stone represents a part of history. Not to mention the beautiful food, wines and various dishes they serve in all the different regions and the friendship you can experience if you are really interested in the people and the country. It’s worth soaking up and living it!

Are there any funny or interesting things you have experienced in Italy, outside of class? 

I always plan sometime before or after the course to lengthen my stay and not only in Amelia but also to see other parts of Italy, this in relation to the things mentioned above. For me and my wife Petra, ARCA and its people have become family, or at least very good friends. The drive and energy we get out of our stay there lasts us through the autumn. Maybe not necessarily funny but still a fact about what Italy can do with you and for you when you know the right people and when you are open to it. 

One of the festivals in Amelia...
What is your experience with the yearly ARCA conference in June?

Throughout the years that the Amelia Conference has taken place, I have watched it become more and more focused and specialized. The number of attendees has also grown from 40-50 at its start to well over 100-120 attendees, even without using publishing or marketing tools. That is what a conference should be about, interesting topics, good speakers, interesting discussions and the opportunity to network and get to know people. Due to my work, I am not always able to attend every year and feel this as a missed opportunity to grow and to extend my knowledge and network. For the participants it is very important to be there and to connect with the people that could be interesting for their line of work or career or just because it is good to meet interesting people. This applies also the other way around. I’m looking forward to meeting all of the participants during this coming 2019 program!

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For a detailed prospectus and application materials or for general questions about this postgraduate program please contact us at education@artcrimeresearch.org  

Edgar Tijhuis at the ARCA Library
Edgar Tijhuis is Academic Director at ARCA and visiting scholar at the Institute of Criminology in Ljubljana. He is responsible for the postgraduate certificate program in the study of art crime and cultural heritage protection. Since 2009, Edgar Tijhuis has taught criminology modules within the ARCA program.

December 21, 2018

Marc Balcells returns to Amelia this summer to teach "How to Analyze Art Crime Empirically” at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection


By Edgar Tijhuis

In 2019, the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection will be held from May 31 through August 15th in the heart of Umbria in Amelia, Italy. In the months leading up to the start of the program, a number of this year’s professors will be interviewed. 

This time, I have been speaking with Marc Balcells, who sits in his office at Pompeu Fabra University, overlooking the busy and beautiful harbor of Barcelona. Pompeu Fabra University is among the five fastest-growing universities in the world, according to the Times Higher Education Supplement, and a place of excellence in both research and education.

Marc Balcells giving a lecture at the prestigious Conervatori del Licieu in Barcelona

Can you tell us something about your background and work?

I am a professor at the open university of Catalonia (UOC) and an associate professor at Pompeu Fanta University (UPF). I teach mostly criminology and criminal law. I hold degrees in Criminology, Law and Human Sciences, as well as a Masters in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. I also hold a PhD in Criminal Justice. My research focuses mostly around transnational and organized crime, mostly related to cultural heritage crime. I also conduct research on cybercrime (and antiquities trafficking) among other issues such as the history of criminology and crime.

What do you feel is most relevant about your course? 

My course is all about researching empirically from a criminological angle. It implies that participants must learn to research also from this angle: that is, instead of piling up information on any given art crime that will probably be collected from books and newspapers.  The course gives participants a tool to conduct serious research and learn how to design a research project within the field of cultural heritage crime. Challenging participants to see what serious research they are able to conduct in order to improve our knowledge on this field is essential! And of course, in the meantime participants not only learn about cultural heritage crime but also about criminology and criminological theory, using other crimes as examples of crime in general, as it is one of our everyday realities that we must live with.

What do you hope participants will get out of the courses? 

A fascination for a criminological point of view when analyzing cultural heritage crime, as well as an enchantment with the field of criminology and a fascination for the craft of research.

What would a typical day be like in your classroom?

A dialogue between myself and the participants. I do ask a lot of questions in order to prompt debate: getting to know what participants think about on different topics is very enriching. But I also like to challenge them and to see how they research art theft, or looting, to name two crimes, by giving them research examples and seeing how they would improve them or simply do things differently.

Marc Balcells explaining crimes in the art world on Spanish television

While each year participants are very enthusiastic about your course, is there anything that you learn from them in class?

So many things! Participants must know that before I became a professor in this degree, I was a student in it: I sat on both sides of the classroom and, therefore, I do know what is to be a student participant and what I wanted from a professor when I was studying. I am not only a professor on the ARCA Program but a am a graduate of it! 

I am inquisitive by nature, but much more in class. I love to ask questions and see their points of view. Also, I do love to meet with the participants after classes and enjoy a tea with them while chatting about art crime in general or helping them with their projects.

In anticipation of your course, what book, article, or movie would you recommend to the participants? 

In my case, I would recommend that they read academic research produced by scholars in whichever field of cultural heritage crime they are interested in. I can assure you that they are as fascinating as any other art crime book that is being written by journalists, for example. Therefore, I would recommend they read everything that interests them, both scholarly and non-scholarly.

What makes the annual ARCA program so unique?

Let’s say it like this, it is the intensity: where else can you learn so much, working with top experts in this field? It is intensive and complete and, at the same time, it immerses you in the local culture of Amelia, in Italy, which is an open-air museum. Field trips organized by the program gives participants the in-depth experience needed to grasp most of the subjects discussed in the courses. It is the perfect setting!

Field trips and an open-air museum around you….
 
Which other course in the program would you love to follow yourself and why? 

So many. Since I was once an ARCA participant myself, new courses have developed, and I would love, especially, to attend Professor Christos Tsirogiannis’ course on the hidden market of illicit antiquities. I admire his work and he is a great colleague. He was a great help with my earlier research and I could not be more grateful. He is widely acknowledged as an expert in the field and his media attention and the scope of his work is simply amazing! Again, it is the living proof of what I mentioned in my previous answer. Learning all about antiquities trafficking with Professor Tsirogiannis in Italy is an opportunity not to be missed!

Is there anything you can recommend to future participants of things to do in Amelia or Umbria? 

Come with an open and ready mind. Learn the culture of the place in which you will be living during your summer there. And be ready to learn a lot: work hard and there can be fantastic rewards afterwards. It is a fantastic field and it requires more and more trained minds to work in it!

Museums, museums, museums…

Are there any funny or interesting things you experienced in Italy, outside class? 

Indeed! We are still good friends after all these years, with my colleagues. We have so many good memories with the locals, the professors, regarding the field we made... it is a summer-long experience. The food, the setting, the people...

What is your experience with the annual ARCA conference in June? 

Sadly, I am always immersed teaching courses at that time and I cannot attend as much as I want, but I am changing this. I presented or attended years ago, and it is overwhelming being able to meet colleagues in this field and getting to know their research and the latest advances. These are very intense days: it is not only the conference, but the networking involved, in every single meeting. And of course, some fun to be had too, as the dinners and lunches are always fantastic!

Amelia...

Anything last thoughts? 

I would like to end this interview by saying that I am looking forward, as every year, to meeting our new cohorts. I always come back to Amelia and ARCA with a fluttering heart, knowing I will get to meet and get to know new participants, see again some old friends, and spend days teaching and talking about cultural heritage crime.

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For a detailed prospectus and application materials, or for general questions about this postgraduate program, please contact us at education@artcrimeresearch.org 




Edgar Tijhuis in the ARCA Library

Edgar Tijhuis is Academic Director at ARCA and a visiting scholar at the Institute of Criminology in Ljubljana. He is responsible for the Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. Since 2008, Edgar Tijhuis has also been teaching a number of classes on the program and he will teach again in 2019.

October 18, 2018

ARCA's Postgraduate program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection is now accepting applications.


Who studies art crime?

ARCA's Postgraduate program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection is now accepting applications.

Early applications will be accepted through 30 November subject to census limitations. 
In 2009, ARCA started the very first interdisciplinary program to study art crimes wholistically.

Designed to give participants a unique opportunity to train in a structured and academically diverse format, ARCA's summer-long postgraduate program was designed around the study of the dynamics, strategies, objectives and modus operandi of criminals and criminal organizations who commit a variety of art  related crimes.  

Turn on the news (or follow this blog) and you will see over and over again examples of museum thefts, forgeries, antiquities looting and illicit trafficking of cultural goods.  Intentional heritage destruction and religion-based iconoclasm during armed conflict, once a modern-day rarity, has affected multiple countries and adds to regional instability in many areas of the globe.


Looted art, both ancient and Holocaust-related, can and often does find its way into the world's premiere auction houses and the galleries of respected museum institutions while dealers working in the field continue to be less than adept at distinguishing smuggled and stolen art, from art with a clean provenance. Thus making dealing with art crime an unrelenting problem and one without any easy solution.

Taken incident by incident, it is difficult to see the impact and implications of art crime as a global concern, but when studied across disciplines, looking at the gaps of legal instruments, country to country, one begins to have a clearer picture of the significance of the problem and its impact on the world's collective patrimony.

The world's cultural heritage is an invaluable legacy and its protection is integral to our future. 

One summer, eleven courses.

At its foundation, ARCA's summer-long program in Italy draws upon the overlapping and complementary expertise of international thought-leaders on the topic of art crime – all practitioners and leading scholars who actively work in the sector. 

In 2019, participants of the program will receive 220+ hours of instruction over 11 courses taught by a range of experts actively committed to combatting art crime from a variety of different angles.

For more information on the summer 2019 postgraduate professional development program, please see ARCA's website here.

To request further information or to receive a 2019 prospectus and application materials, please email:
education (at) artcrimeresearch.org

Interested in knowing more about the program from a student's perspective?

Here are some blog posts from and by students who have attended in 20162015, 2014, and in 2013.



December 23, 2016

Italy prepares to introduce tougher sanctions to combat art crime



Often ahead of the game when it comes to having a low tolerance for art crimes, Italy is about to get tougher still by adapting its current criminal legislation on crimes against cultural heritage.

During a press conference held on Friday at the inauguration of the reopening of the House of the Faun at Pompeii, the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini and the country's new Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, announced that Italy was perched to crack down further on a variety of art and heritage related crimes, something it has been valiently trying to accomplish in legislation originally pushed for by General B(a) CC Roberto Conforti, the (now) retired Commander of the del Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale.

Based on a revised proposal submitted by the Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando and Mr. Franceschini, Italy's Council of Ministers, has approved a bill today that will be tabled in Parliament to give the government a mandate for the reform of the country's rules on penalties for offenses against cultural heritage.

If approved by Italy's parliament the reform is designed to:
  • introduce a new criminal offence "theft of cultural property" which will make a distinction between simple theft in general and heritage theft in particular.  This offense would carry a sentence of 2 to 8 years of imprisonment,
  • introduce a new criminal offence, the illicit trafficking (specifically of) cultural goods, which would be punishable by a sentence of 2 to 6 years of imprisonment, 
  • increase the penalties for crimes which lie downstream from the looting and theft of cultural property, this could including money laundering and/or receiving stolen goods, when those goods or proceeds are considered to have been the direct result of the illicit handling of cultural property, including specific penalties for the "illegal possession of cultural property" which would be punishable by eight years of imprisonment,
  • address the crime of pillage, seeking sanctions not only against the unjustified possession of metal detectors when found in possession of cultural goods on heritage sites, but the simple possession of tools used for tomb raiding, whether or not the person is found with heritage objects in their possession,
  • address the destruction, disfigurement, or desecration of cultural and landscape heritage,
  • allow for tougher penalties in cases involving art forgeries, 
  • allow for the use of undercover operations to track illicit trafficking of cultural property crime, including wiretapping,
  • allow for the reduction in criminal sentencing in cases where defendents work with law enforcement and stolen art is recovered.


October 13, 2016

Conference: Art, Antiquities, Heritage and Wildlife Crime in Southeast Asia - 22 October 2016



Conference Venue: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Graduate Law Centre, The Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2/F, Bank of America Tower, 12 Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong.

Date and Time: Saturday 22nd October, 2016, 9.30 am- 5.15 pm.

Registration and attendance is free.

The Faculty of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong presents a conference as part of its 10th Anniversary celebrations to consider crime involving art, antiquities, cultural heritage and wildlife in Southeast Asia and beyond. The Conference will involve academics, legal practitioners, the Hong Kong Police Force, Interpol and US Homeland Security. The speakers will consider issues involving art crime and cultural heritage protection in Southeast Asia including the looting and illicit traffic in antiquities in Southeast Asia. There will also be a special panel considering the trade in endangered species focusing on Hong Kong’s place in the illicit trade in ivory.

Speakers:

Managing Director, Head of Private Client Services, K2 Intelligence

Criminal Intelligence Officer, Works of Art Unit, Interpol

Senior Inspector, Hong Kong Police Force

Senior Consultant, Head of Private Wealth - China, Herbert Smith Freehills

Associate Professor of Practice in Law, The Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Associate Professor, the Hakubi Center for Advanced Research of Kyoto University

Professor of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington, member of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow (Trafficking Culture)

Police Commandant Ministry of Interior International Police Co-operation Directorate

Assistant HSI Attaché, Homeland Security Investigations, Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan

For further details please contact: 
Ms Bonnie Leung (swleung@cuhk.edu.hk) or Steven Gallagher (stevegallagher@cuhk.edu.hk)

April 27, 2016

US Government sends H.R. 1493 to the US President’s desk for signature.

Late in the day, April 26, 2016 and with final House passage, the US government has approved its final amended version of H.R. 1493, "The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act" agreed to in the Senate by Unanimous Consent. The proposed law will now head to the US President’s desk for signature.

H.R. 1493 was drafted to deny ISIS Funding and to save Syria’s antiquities through the trafficking of its material culture.

The bill was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on March 19, 2015 during the 114th Congress, First Session by Representative Eliot L. Engel, [D-NY-16] via the House - Armed Services; Foreign Affairs; Judiciary; Ways and Means Committee and also referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  The bill calls for the protection and preservation of international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes.  

Since that time the House and Senate have debated the bill separately and offered amendments (ultimately approved as amended by the Senate on April 18, 2016, before the bill went on to all of the US Congress for a full vote. The amended version includes a stronger "safe harbour" measure for Syrian antiquities and deleted a the proposed State Department "Cultural Property Czar."  

As both the Senate and the House have now voted approving the finalized amended version of the bill, it will now go forward to Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, for his signatory approval.


ISIS earns tens of millions annually from looting and trafficking antiquities to fund terror.  A UN Security Council resolution passed in February calls on all nations to help defund ISIS by preventing trade in Syrian antiquities. 
America’s allies have already imposed import restrictions on trafficked Syrian and Iraqi artifacts.  Congress established similar restrictions for Iraqi artifacts in 2004 but has yet to act for Syria, leaving Syrian artifacts open to looting and trafficking by ISIS.
H.R. 1493
  • Imposes import restrictions on illicit Syrian artifacts to undercut looting and trafficking.
  • Provides for antiquities to be temporarily protected by U.S. institutions until they can be safely returned to their rightful owners.
  • Expresses congressional support for establishing an interagency coordinating committee to better protect historical sites and artifacts at risk worldwide. 
  • Improves congressional oversight of efforts to save cultural property.
This bill has been publicly endorsed and supported by the American Alliance of Museums, the American Anthropological Association, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, the Archaeological Institute of America, Preservation Action, the Society for American Archaeology, the Society for Historical Archaeology, the United States Committee of the Blue Shield, and the U.S. National Committee of the International Council of Museums.

Once signed by President Obama and by imposing import restrictions on Syrian material culture, the U.S. will be joining the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the European Union in taking steps to protect trafficked antiquities from Syria.

A complete copy of the approved amended Bill is located here

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs welcomed the Senate passage of his legislation. 

On the House floor Chairman Royce spoke about combating ISIS’s destruction and looting of artifacts from the birthplace of civilisation.  Below is a video that includes Chairman Royce’s remarks.  A written transcript of his remarks can be found here




September 8, 2015

In Homage to Zenobia, 3rd century Queen of Palmyra, Her Statue is Erected in Umayyad Square, Damascus.

Image Credit: SANA
In defiance to the destruction and havoc being wrecked in Palmyra, an imposing statute of Queen Zenobia, the 3rd century queen of Palmyra, has been erected in Damascus at Umayyad Square where it will be on display for the next four days.

The statue represents a component of  the “From Palmyra to Damascus” activity held during the 5th Forum of Arts and Innovation which has been organised by Syria's Ministry of Tourism.  In response to the event's inauguration tourism minister Bisher Yazigi released a press statement regarding the events saying in part that “life in Syria cannot be brought to a standstill despite raging war.”


During the heritage-based forum, the statue of Zenobia will be installed next to another representing Dr.  Khaled al-Asaad, the prominent archeologist who was the director of antiquities and director of the museum in Palmyra for 40 years until his retirement in 2003.  Dr al-Asaad was beheaded August 18, 2015 by Islamic State militants, in front of an assembled crowd, near the ancient ruins he spent his life studying and protecting.  He was 82 years old.

The Forum run through September 9th, and includes the photo exhibition presented in the film below on crimes against Syria’s cultural heritage and historical treasures, documentaries about the Syrian civilization, and a film highlighting the Dr. al-Asaad's work in Palmyra.








March 31, 2015

US Legislature calling for the protection and preservation of international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes.

by Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO

Earlier in March 2015, Representative Eliot L Engel, [D-NY-16] introduced a Bill in the 114th Congress, First Session, -- via the House - Armed Services; Foreign Affairs; Judiciary; Ways and Means Committee and also referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs -- calling for the protection and preservation of international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes [A copy of that bill has been included in its entirety below].

In addition, four members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote a letter to Adam Szubin, Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)urging the U.S. to block import of looted Syrian antiquities:
We write to urge that the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control act quickly to promulgate regulations imposing sanctions on importers of cultural property unlawfully removed from Syria,” the letter, issued on Monday, said. “Such regulations would implement a recently adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution and would mirror regulations already established for Iraq.
The Titles for the bill introduced earlier are as follows:
  • SHORT TITLE(S) AS INTRODUCED: 
    Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act
  • OFFICIAL TITLE AS INTRODUCED: 
    To protect and preserve international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes.
On March 19, 2015 this Bill was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Armed Services, and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Bill text available as: PDF

114th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. R. 1493

To protect and preserve international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 19, 2015
Mr. Engel (for himself, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Royce, and Mr. Keating) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Armed Services, and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL
To protect and preserve international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.
This Act may be cited as the “Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act”.

SEC. 2. Definition.
In this Act:

(1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—The term “appropriate congressional committees” means the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate.

(2) CULTURAL PROPERTY.—The term “cultural property” includes property covered under—
(A) the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, concluded at The Hague on May 14, 1954 (Treaty Doc. 106–1(A));

(B) Article 1 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO on November 23, 1972 (commonly referred to as the “1972 Convention”); or

(C) Article 1 of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, adopted by UNESCO on November 14, 1970 (commonly referred to as the “1970 UNESCO Convention”).

SEC. 3. Findings and statement of policy.

(a) Findings.—Congress finds the following:
(1) Over the years, international cultural property has been looted, trafficked, lost, damaged, or destroyed due to political instability, armed conflict, natural disasters, and other threats.

(2) During China’s Cultural Revolution, many antiques were destroyed, including a large portion of old Beijing, and Chinese authorities are now attempting to rebuild portions of China’s lost architectural heritage.

(3) In 1975, the Khmer Rouge, after seizing power in Cambodia, systematically destroyed mosques and nearly every Catholic church in the country, along with many Buddhist temples, statues, and Buddhist literature.

(4) In 2001, the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, ancient statues carved into a cliffside in central Afghanistan, leading to worldwide condemnation.

(5) After the fall of Saddam Hussein, thieves looted the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, resulting in the loss of approximately 15,000 items, including ancient amulets, sculptures, ivories, and cylinder seals. Many of these items remain unrecovered.

(6) The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami not only affected 11 countries, causing massive loss of life, but also damaged or destroyed libraries, archives, and World Heritage Sites such as the Mahabalipuram in India, the Sun Temple of Koranak on the Bay of Bengal, and the Old Town of Galle and its fortifications in Sri Lanka.

(7) In Haiti, the 2010 earthquake destroyed art, artifacts, and archives, and partially destroyed the 17th century Haitian city of Jacmel.

(8) In Mali, the Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group Ansar Dine destroyed tombs and shrines in the ancient city of Timbuktu—a major center for trade, scholarship, and Islam in the 15th and 16th centuries—and threatened collections of ancient manuscripts.

(9) In Egypt, recent political instability has led to the ransacking of museums, resulting in the destruction of countless ancient artifacts that will forever leave gaps in humanity’s record of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

(10) In Syria, the ongoing civil war has resulted in the shelling of medieval cities, damage to five World Heritage Sites, and the looting of museums containing artifacts that date back more than six millennia and include some of the earliest examples of writing.

(11) In Iraq and Syria, the militant group ISIL has destroyed numerous cultural sites and artifacts, such as the Tomb of Jonah in July 2014, in an effort to eradicate ethnic and religious minorities from contested territories. Concurrently, cultural antiquities that escape demolition are looted and trafficked to help fund ISIL’s militant operations.

(12) On February 12, 2015, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2199 (2015), which “[r]eaffirms its decision in paragraph 7 of resolution 1483 (2003) and decides that all Member States shall take appropriate steps to prevent the trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, and religious importance illegally removed from Iraq since 6 August 1990 and from Syria since 15 March 2011, including by prohibiting cross-border trade in such items, thereby allowing for their eventual safe return to the Iraqi and Syrian people.”.

(13) United Nations Security Council resolution 2199 (2015) also warns that ISIL and other extremist groups are trafficking cultural heritage items from Iraq and Syria to fund their recruitment efforts and carry out terrorist attacks.

(14) Cultural property represents an irreparable loss of humanity’s common cultural heritage and is therefore a loss for all Americans.

(15) Protecting international cultural property is a vital part of United States cultural diplomacy, showing the respect of the United States for other cultures and the common heritage of humanity.

(16) The United States Armed Forces have played important roles in preserving and protecting cultural property. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a commission to advise the United States military on the protection of cultural property. The commission formed teams of individuals known as the “Monuments Men” who are credited with securing, cataloguing, and returning hundreds of thousands of works of art stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

(17) The Department of State, in response to the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, noted that “the legislation is important to our foreign relations, including our international cultural relations. The expanding worldwide trade in objects of archaeological and ethnological interest has led to wholesale depredations in some countries, resulting in the mutilation of ceremonial centers and archaeological complexes of ancient civilizations and the removal of stone sculptures and reliefs.”. The Department further noted that “[t]he United States considers that on grounds of principle, good foreign relations, and concern for the preservation of the cultural heritage of mankind, it should render assistance in these situations.”.

(18) The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield was founded in 2006 to support the implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and to coordinate with the United States military, other branches of the United States Government, and other cultural heritage nongovernmental organizations in preserving international cultural property threatened by political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters.

(b) Statement of policy.—It shall be the policy of the United States to—
(1) protect and preserve international cultural property at risk of looting, trafficking, and destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters;

(2) protect international cultural property pursuant to its obligations under international treaties to which the United States is a party;

(3) prevent, in accordance with existing laws, importation of cultural property pillaged, looted, stolen, or trafficked at all times, including during political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters; and

(4) ensure that existing laws and regulations, including import restrictions imposed through the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury, are fully implemented to prevent trafficking in stolen or looted cultural property.

SEC. 4. United States Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection.
The Secretary of State shall designate a Department of State employee at the Assistant Secretary level or above to serve concurrently as the United States Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection. The Coordinator shall—

(1) coordinate and promote efforts to protect international cultural property, especially activities that involve multiple Federal agencies;

(2) act as Chair of the Coordinating Committee on International Cultural Property Protection established under section 5;

(3) resolve interagency differences;

(4) develop strategies to reduce illegal trade and trafficking in international cultural property in the United States and abroad, including by reducing consumer demand for such trade;

(5) support activities to assist countries that are the principle sources of trafficked cultural property to protect cultural heritage sites and to prevent cultural property looting and theft;

(6) work with and consult domestic and international actors such as foreign governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, museums, educational institutions, and research institutions to protect international cultural property; and

(7) submit to the appropriate congressional committees the annual report required under section 6.

SEC. 5. Coordinating Committee on International Cultural Property Protection.

(a) Establishment.—There is established a Coordinating Committee on International Cultural Property Protection (in this section referred to as the “Committee”).

(b) Functions.—The full Committee shall meet not less often than annually to coordinate and inform Federal efforts to protect international cultural property and to facilitate the work of the United States Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection designated under section 4.

(c) Membership.—The Committee shall be composed of the United States Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection, who shall act as Chair, and representatives of the following:
(1) The Department of State.

(2) The Department of Defense.

(3) The Department of Homeland Security, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

(4) The Department of the Interior.

(5) The Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

(6) The United States Agency for International Development.

(7) The Smithsonian Institution.

(8) The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield.

(9) Such other entities as the Chair determines appropriate.

(d) Subcommittees.—The Committee may include such subcommittees and taskforces as the Chair determines appropriate. Such subcommittees or taskforces may be comprised of a subset of the Committee members or of such other members as the Chair determines appropriate. At the discretion of the Chair, the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) and section 552b of title 5 of the United States Code (relating to open meetings) shall not apply to activities of such subcommittees or taskforces.

(e) Consultation.—The Committee shall consult with governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including museums, educational institutions, and research institutions on efforts to promote and protect international cultural property.

SEC. 6. Reports on activities to protect international cultural property.
The Secretary of State, acting through the United States Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection, and in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, as appropriate, shall annually submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that includes information on activities of—

(1) the United States Coordinator and the Coordinating Committee on International Cultural Property Protection to protect international cultural property;

(2) the Department of State to protect international cultural property, including activities undertaken pursuant to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and other statutes, international agreements, and policies, including—
(A) procedures the Department has instituted to protect international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters; and

(B) actions the Department has taken to protect international cultural property in conflicts to which the United States is a party;

(3) the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to protect international cultural property, including activities and coordination with other Federal agencies, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations regarding the protection of international cultural property at risk due to political unrest, armed conflict, natural or other disasters, and USAID development programs;

(4) the Department of Defense to protect international cultural property, including activities undertaken pursuant to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and other cultural property protection statutes and international agreements, including—
(A) directives, policies, and regulations the Department has instituted to protect international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters; and

(B) actions the Department has taken to avoid damage to cultural property through construction activities abroad; and

(5) the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to protect both international cultural property abroad and international cultural property located in, or attempted to be imported into, the United States, including activities undertaken pursuant to statutes and international agreements, including—
(A) statutes and regulations the Department has employed in criminal, civil, and civil forfeiture actions to prevent and interdict trafficking in stolen and smuggled cultural property, including investigations into transnational organized crime and smuggling networks; and

(B) actions the Department has taken in order to ensure the consistent and effective application of law in cases relating to both international cultural property abroad and international cultural property located in, or attempted to be imported into, the United States.

SEC. 7. Authorization for Federal agencies to engage in international cultural property protection activities with the Smithsonian Institution.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any agency that is involved in international cultural property protection activities is authorized to enter into agreements or memoranda of understanding with the Smithsonian Institution to temporarily engage personnel from the Smithsonian Institution for the purposes of furthering such international cultural property protection activities.

SEC. 8. Emergency protection for Syrian cultural property.

(a) Presidential determination.—Notwithstanding subsection (b) of section 304 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2603) (relating to a Presidential determination that an emergency condition applies with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of any State Party to the Convention), the President shall apply the import restrictions referred to in such section 304 with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Syria, except that subsection (c) of such section 304 shall not apply. Such import restrictions shall take effect not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(b) Definitions.—In this section—
(1) the term “archaeological or ethnological material of Syria” means cultural property of Syria and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, or religious importance unlawfully removed from Syria on or after March 15, 2011; and

(2) the term “State Party” has the meaning given such term in section 302 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2601).