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house Bill H.R. 1493

Should There be Import Restrictions on Stolen Artifacts (from Syria)?

Argument in favor

The people who would import this property are doing so for selfish reasons. Cultural property has the most significance to the people whose culture created it, and they should be able to keep it.

Tanisha's Opinion
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05/25/2015
We would all but die to keep the Statue of Liberty if god forbid some foreign leader tried to come take it for "safe keeping". What would we do if foreigners tried to take our most prized statues and artifacts from DC. Let them keep their own artifacts.
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HTRitchie's Opinion
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05/25/2015
We cannot be the ultimate protector but we should be an influencer.
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Roland s's Opinion
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05/26/2015
As artifacts of civilization they do need as much protection as possible. Stopping ISIL, ISIS, would seem a logical step.
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Argument opposed

When an area is thrown into upheaval and instability because of war, it can lead to the destruction of cultural property. It’d be better for future generations that it is sold or transferred overseas than no longer exist.

ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/25/2015
More government positions, more useless committees, more wasted spending on foreign countries. No thanks.
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D's Opinion
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05/26/2015
I feel United Nations is the right host for legalized cultural protectorates, thus involving multiple nations, not just US. This encourages other nations to engage and the US is NOT left to police the world.
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Edward's Opinion
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05/26/2015
It's not our concern and we should not spend money on it.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedMay 9th, 2016
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed April 13th, 2016
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house Passed June 2nd, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Armed Services
      Trade
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedMarch 19th, 2015

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What is House Bill H.R. 1493?

This bill would create a Coordinator position (within the Dept. of State) for International Cultural Property Protection. They would be responsible for coordinating and promoting federal efforts to address international cultural property protection activities. A Coordinating Committee on international cultural property protection would be established to help the Coordinator’s work.

The President would be directed to apply import restrictions covering archaeological or ethnological material from Syria. These restrictions would treat Syria as if it were a party to an international agreement aimed at stopping the illegal import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property. Specifically, it would apply to historically or culturally important items that left Syria on or after March 15, 2011.

Any agency involved in international cultural property protection also get help in their efforts (temporarily) from the Smithsonian Institution. The Coordinator would be at the Assistant Secretary level of the State Department or higher, and would serve in both capacities at the same time.

Impact

People who would import cultural property from Syria, federal agencies involved in prohibiting these transactions, the State Department, the Coordinator and the Coordinating Committee, the President.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1493

$500.00 Thousand
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2016-2020 period. The restriction on importing materials from Syria that are culturally or historically significant would result in revenue loss of an additional $500,000 over the 2016-2025 period.

More Information

Of Note: ISIS has destroyed numerous culturally significant artifacts in Syria, Iraq, and Libya including churches, mosques, shrines, ancient sites, and artifacts in museums as it has expanded its influence in the Middle East. The ancient Roman ruins at Palmyra in Syria — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — have been threatened by ISIS since May 2015. In late August 2015 ISIS destroyed a major temple at Palmyra known as the Temple of Bel.

The import restriction imposed by this bill on cultural property from Syria is very similar to an existing restricting imports of cultural property from Iraq, enacted in 2008. That restriction covered ceramics, stone, metal, glass, ivory, bone, shell, textile, paper, parchment, wood, and paintings — but did allow for imports that were accompanied by documentation showing that it left Iraq prior to August 6, 1990.

A Hollywood film weighed in on the theft of cultural property with The Monuments Men, which focused on cultural artifacts stolen by the Nazis and efforts by the Allies to retrieve the items, and was loosely based on a non-fiction book.


In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) cited this bill’s historical context in his press release, noting that “Wars have long caused terrible destruction and looting of  priceless cultural property, from Nazi theft of artwork during World War II to Syria’s bombing of Aleppo to ISIL’s selling-off of ancient treasures. We need to strengthen our ability to stop history’s looters from profiting off their crimes.”

This bill also has bipartisan support with five Democratic and three Republican cosponsors, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) praised this legislation’s efforts to help “priceless treasures stand a better chance in the face of this despicable campaign.”

The Society for American Archaeology and its 7,000 members expressed their strong support for this bill, saying that it would allow the U.S. to “rapidly increase its presence and impact in this often under-appreciated, but vital, area that resides at the intersection of trade, defense, and foreign affairs.”


Media:


Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: "Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria - 3" by James Gordon from Los Angeles, California, USA - Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

AKA

Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Official Title

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

    We would all but die to keep the Statue of Liberty if god forbid some foreign leader tried to come take it for "safe keeping". What would we do if foreigners tried to take our most prized statues and artifacts from DC. Let them keep their own artifacts.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    More government positions, more useless committees, more wasted spending on foreign countries. No thanks.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    I feel United Nations is the right host for legalized cultural protectorates, thus involving multiple nations, not just US. This encourages other nations to engage and the US is NOT left to police the world.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    We cannot be the ultimate protector but we should be an influencer.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    As artifacts of civilization they do need as much protection as possible. Stopping ISIL, ISIS, would seem a logical step.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    Protecting these monuments should be a project of our existing involvement and not a new initiative
    Like (2)
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    It's not our concern and we should not spend money on it.
    Like (2)
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    It is a waste of our time and money. This is not the job of government.
    Like (2)
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    I love history and it's tragic when it's lost. But honestly I couldn't care less about the region of the world right now. Maybe it's better they start over their history is tragic anyway.
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    This does nothing for the citizens of our country. If people care about this issue, let them give their own money and time.
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    If nothing else, other countries should be willing to store artifacts so they are not destroyed or stolen by others until whatever unrest is occurring in their country subsides or ends.
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    Leave out of the country issues to the individuals that want to spend there own energy and resources.
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    We need to to stop ISIS from destroying any more antiquities this is a tragedy.
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    I cannot believe that this proposal asks such a question when there is so much, suffering, mayhem, and egregious loss of life. Who would place mere rock over human life. These must be one of those people who will abort their children at the drop of a hat, but are against Capital Punishment. Save an ancient column and to hell with the people? Should one of those artifacts make it to the states in tact, it will most likely be safe from destruction.
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    Really you need a new law for this? Try using a few dozen of the existing laws like possession of stolen property.
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    Purchasing stolen artifacts may as well be purchasing blood diamonds as far as I am concerned.
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    It is NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!! Nor is it our Financial responsibility!!!
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    We should diminish any opportunity for ISIS to collect profit off stolen artifacts from potential buyers in the United States.
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    Money made from exporting these artifacts will end up in bad hands
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    Protect every cultures history's of art!
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