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Antiquities Coalition Cited in Yale Law Journal Forum

July 19, 2020

The Antiquities Coalition and AC Executive Director Tess Davis were cited by recent Yale Law School graduate Nikita Lalwani in “State of the Art: How Cultural Property Became a National-Security Priority,” an essay published July 19 in volume 130 of the Yale Law Journal’s online companion, the Yale Law Journal Forum.

Lalwani describes the essay as follows: 

For much of the twentieth century, the United States did little to help repatriate looted antiquities, thanks to a powerful coalition of art collectors, museums, and numismatists who preferred an unregulated art market. Today, however, the country treats the protection of cultural property as an important national-security issue. What changed? This Essay tells the story of how a confluence of events—including the high-profile destruction and looting of cultural property in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the revelation that looted antiquities were helping to bankroll terrorist organizations in the Middle East—convinced both Congress and the State Department to take the issue seriously. It then asks what this shift says about how the United States sets its policy agenda and reflects on how cultural property law should evolve from here.

Lalwani spoke with Davis in a video interview on April 16, investigating why the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act not only upheld such “strict requirements” for any States Parties requesting memoranda of understanding, but also created such a “heavily bureaucratized” process for approving said agreements.

As Davis explained, “restricting the art market was less accepted in 1983 than it is now” and “lawmakers wanted to cover their bases by giving much more deference to the market.”

If the CCPIA had been written today, Davis added, stricter regulations would be likely.

Lalwani also quoted Davis later in her essay, when discussing the effects of the United States defining more policy priorities—including cultural property issues—as national security concerns.

“The State Department has realized that cultural-property agreements are valuable diplomatic tools, and they are more willing to pursue them,” Davis said. “Part of that might owe simply to the personalities involved. But with ISIS on the front page of newspapers, that’s certainly raised awareness.”

In addition to quoting Davis, Lalwani cites several other Antiquities Coalition articles throughout the essay, including: