The Destruction of Cultural Property in Conflict Situations


Maggie Ronayne, Junior Representative, Northern Europe (National University of Ireland, Republic of Ireland)

maggie.ronayne@nuigalway.ie

Remit of the Task Force

Following several discussions during WAC 4 on the destruction of cultural property in conflict situations and resolutions at Council in Cape Town on 14th January 1999, the Executive set up a task force to deal with this issue and a co-ordinator was appointed. The co-ordinator held a meeting with two others whom he asked to serve as members and it was decided to contact other WAC members who had expertise in this area or who would be likely to be interested in committing time to such work. We have provided the full list of task force members below. However, we would welcome any further members to the task force who wish to work with us on this issue, particularly as some regions and interests are not represented at all (despite attempts to find such members who would serve on the task force). In accordance with Article 2 of the WAC statutes, it was decided that this should be irrespective of age, seniority within the archaeological profession, or membership of the archaeological or anthropological professions.

Interpreting broadly, we understand ‘conflict situation’ to refer to war-torn areas, post-war situations, pre-war aggression, tourism (particularly when introduced to ravaged national economies and disadvantaged areas), acts of cultural, social and economic aggression and discrimination by a powerful, sectarian interest towards the cultural property of an oppressed group within and between societies.

Each member of the task force will write a report on the destruction of cultural property in their area in relation to this definition.

Points for Discussion

We have identified the following general questions which, we suggest, should underlie each investigation. We welcome comments, discussion and possible additions on these points. Obviously, each member of the task force will develop more specific lines of inquiry relating to their own region and to particular cases.

· What happens to cultural property in conflict situations and to the relationships which people have to it?

· What happens to people’s histories and memories and to relations between groups of people when their cultural property is destroyed?

· What is the viewpoint of the government of the country where cultural property is being destroyed?

· What action is being taken by that government in order to end such destruction?

· How useful have the various non-governmental organizations, international agencies, supra-national formations etc. been in addressing such issues? (This refers to agencies and formations such as the UN, UNESCO, ICOMOS, the European Union and WAC itself.)

· If the destruction of cultural property involves a trade in illegally obtained objects, how does this trade work and who is benefiting from it?

· What can be done to intervene in each situation and what action should WAC take in each case?

Procedure and Timetable

Each member will attempt to outline the full extent of the situation in their area but, in order to complete a report within the timetable, will concentrate on detailing one or two major issues which need to be prioritized. The task is seen as one of information gathering in this first stage, in order to make recommendations on future action by WAC in different regions. The form of submission will be a written report to the co-ordinator and also to the CEO of WAC, Peter Stone (Department of Archaeology, University of Newcastle, UK). The reports will then be on file with WAC. The reports will offer an interpretation of the collated information, with general recommendations and recommendations for action on the part of WAC. There is no restriction on length but all correspondence entered into during the compilation of the reports and any available documentation or evidence of particular problems outlined in the text is to be submitted in appendices. The reports will be in English where this is possible but reports in other languages may be submitted. In the course of compiling the reports, every member of the task force will:

· consult as widely as possible, by appropriate means for their region and with sensitivity to the situations being addressed

· consult with the WAC membership of as many countries and areas as possible in that region

· consult beyond that membership and beyond the professional boundaries of archaeology/anthropology

· keep the WAC representatives in the region informed of their progress.

The reports are to be submitted by the end of June 2000 to the co-ordinator and the CEO of WAC. The task force coordinator will summarize their implications for WAC in a final report prepared before the next WAC inter-congress. It is to be hoped that as many members of the task force as possible will stay in contact with each other and maintain a dialogue on the issues being addressed in order to explore possible connections across regions.

All of the situations being addressed will be serious and to some degree, urgent, but it may be the case that a member of the task force or another WAC member in the region feels that immediate action is required on a particular case. It is possible for the members of this task force to request further information from offending parties. It should be possible for any member to publish details of an urgent case and request support from other WAC members through the medium of the World Archaeological Bulletin and other such WAC publications/communication media as might then exist.

Contacts

Co-ordinator

Henry Mutoro

Post Department of History, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya.

Fax (254) 2 336 885.

Email Mutoro@net2000ke.com

Members

Ricardo Chirinos Portocarrero, Latin America

Email chricardo@hotmail.com

Gustavo Martinez, Latin America

Post Departamento de Arqueologia, INCUAPA, Facultad de Ciencias Socialos, Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Del Valle 5737, Olavarria (CP 7400), Buenos Aires Province, Argentina.

Email gmartine@soc.unicen.edu.ar

Michael Blakey, North America

Email mblakey@fac.howard.edu

Krishna Mohan Shrimali, Southern Asia

Post A- 2/8, Maurice Nagar, University of Delhi, Delhi, 110 007, India

Email shrimali@del3.vsnl.net.in

George Abungu, East and Southern Africa

Post Director’s Office, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya.

Raymond Asombang, Central Africa

Post Department of Arts and Archaeology, University of Yaounde 1, PO Box 6544, Yaounde, Cameroon.

Fax (237) 22 18 73

Fathi Saleh, North Africa

Post Ambassadeur, Délégué Permanent d’Egypte auprès de l’UNESCO, I, Rue Miollis, 75015, Paris, France.

Email dl.egypte@unesco.org

Bayo Folorunso, Western Africa

Post Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Email uicc@mail.skannet.com (please type ‘C.A. Folorunso’ in the subject box)

Maggie Ronayne, Northern Europe

Post Department of Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway, Republic of Ireland.

Tel. 353 91 524411 extension 3701

Fax +353 91 525700 (Please mark: For the Attention of M. Ronayne, Archaeology)

Email maggie_ronayne@hotmail.com

or maggie.ronayne@nuigalway.ie

Yannis Hamilakis, South-Eastern Europe

Post Department of Archaeology, University of Wales, Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales.

(from September 2000: Department of Archaeology, University Of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, Hants., UK)

Email yhamilakis@lampeter.ac.uk

Tsoni Tsonev, Eastern Europe

Post Institute of Archaeology and Museums

2, Saborna str., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria.

Fax 003592 882405

Email tsts@bas.bg