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Cultural Property Committee Considers Extending Cultural Property Agreements with Italy, Colombia

Aug. 4, 2020
By: Lois E. Wetzel


On July 22-23, 2020, The Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) convened to consider proposals to extend the U.S.-Italy cultural property agreement and the U.S.-Colombia cultural property agreement. These agreements work to restrict the importation of designated archaeological and/or ethnological material of Italy and Colombia into the United States.

Cultural property agreements like those the U.S. maintains with Italy and Colombia are entered into under the authority of the Cultural Property Implementation Act, 19 U.S.C. § 2602 (CPIA). Per the CPIA, the government of any foreign country that is a State Party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property may request a cultural property agreement to the Department of State. In granting such a request, the U.S. agrees to impose import restrictions on certain cultural material that has been demonstrated by the requesting country to be at risk of looting and illicit trafficking. The Department has delegated the authority to grant or deny requests for cultural property agreements to CPAC. To grant a country’s request, CPAC must have made the following four determinations:

  1. That the cultural patrimony of the State Party is in jeopardy from the pillage of archaeological or ethnological materials of the State Party;
  2. That the State Party has taken measures consistent with the 1970 UNESCO Convention to protect its cultural patrimony;
  3. That--

i. the application of the import restrictions … would be of substantial benefit in deterring a serious situation of pillage,
and
ii. remedies less drastic than the application of the restrictions set forth in such section are not available; and

  1. That the application of the import restrictions in the particular circumstances is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes.



When considering a proposal for the extension of a cultural property agreement already in effect, CPAC focuses on the same factors embodied in the four determinations made at the genesis of the agreement.

This is not the first proposal for extension of either the U.S.-Italy or U.S.-Colombia cultural property agreement. The US first entered into an agreement with Italy to restrict the importation of certain archaeological and ethnographic material in 2001. There have been three extensions of the U.S.-Italy agreement (2006, 2011, 2016). The current US-Italy agreement that is subject to an extension can be found here. The US first entered into a cultural property agreement with Colombia in 2006. That agreement has been extended twice (2011, 2016). The operative US-Colombia agreement that is up for an extension is here.

The list of designated material currently subject to import restrictions under the U.S.-Italy agreement is here. The list of designated material currently subject to import restrictions under the U.S.-Colombia agreement is here.

As it currently stands and in the event the agreements are extended, any importer that is importing designated material subject to import restrictions under the U.S.-Italy or U.S.-Colombia agreements must be prepared to present to Customs upon import either a certificate or other documentation from the State Party of lawful exportation or other satisfactory evidence that the subject material was exported from the State Party more than ten years before the date of entry or before the date on which the material became subject to import restrictions.