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NCJ Number: 200714 Find in a Library
Title: Regulating the Market in Illicit Antiquities
Author(s): Simon Mackenzie
Date Published: September 2002
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Publication Number: ISBN 0-642-24279-8
Sale Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
GPO Box 2944
Canberra ACT, 2601,
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: Given that there is a thriving trade in antiquities, an unknown proportion of which are stolen, this paper presents an analysis of the global systems of supply and demand that govern this trade and considers the regulatory challenges that exist in this complex market.
Abstract: The analysis of the market in illicit antiquities can be divided into three stages: the supply of antiquities from source nations, the demand created by consumers in market nations, and the chain of transportation that links the two. This paper deals only with the supply and demand stages; the transport networks were discussed in an earlier paper in this series. Source countries have sought to deter the looting of antiquities by poverty-stricken locals by imposing criminal penalties for such looting, establishing export prohibitions, and transferring ownership to the state. This paper discusses why these measures have failed to stem the supply of illicit antiquities. First, export prohibitions imposed by source countries are not routinely enforced by market nations. Second, market nations have traditionally been unwilling to enforce source states' "universal declarations of ownership" without some form of real action on the part of the source state (such as actual seizure) to back them up. Third, criminal penalties have not addressed the sense of entitlement that source-country residents feel about "finders keepers." In an effort to regulate demand, two international legislative instruments have been enacted: the UNESCO (United Nations Economic, Social, and Cultural Organization) Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the Unidroit (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. These conventions do little to address the initial plundering that takes the artifacts from the ground. This paper proposes antiquities registration for Australia, which would require all holders of antiquities within the country to provide details of their holding in a public register. Only antiquities with documented archaeological provenance would be registered. Criminal penalties could be attached to the possession of an unregistered antiquity. Such a system would facilitate the tracing of antiquities, be useful for the purposes of insurance, discourage the purchase of antiquities not listed in the register, and enable museums and historians to track down items which they might wish to inspect or borrow for scholarship or display. 15 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Art theft; Black market; Deterrence effectiveness; International agreements; International cooperation; Police effectiveness; Smuggling/Trafficking
Note: Australian Institute of Criminology Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, No. 239, September 2002
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