2015 Archived News

United Nations General Assembly Resolution

In October 2013 the Greek Ministry of Culture hosted the 3rd Annual Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property.  The conference opened in the Acropolis Museum and the chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles was invited to deliver the opening address on the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles.  He concluded with reference to the recent UNESCO initiative inviting the British Museum and the British Government to submit the dispute to mediation, to which he urged a positive response and a successful outcome.


The rest of the conference was held in the conference centre on the site of Ancient Olympia where it was addressed by a wide range of academic, legal, law enforcement and cultural experts from all five continents.  The conclusions of the conference were embodied in a conference resolution which ranged over disputed ownership, illicit removal, the "black" art market, lack of due diligence in the legal art market, the risk to cultural sites and objects in areas of armed conflict and the need for governments and cultural institutions to cooperate with each other and with cultural organisations such as UNESCO. Given the coincidence in timing with the UNESCO initiative on mediation over the Parthenon Marbles dispute this was referenced in the final clause of the resolution. 


On December the 9th 2015 following an initiative by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution with broad international support on the same areas of concern as covered by the conference of experts at Ancient Olympia. This duly included the reference to the dispute over the Parthenon Marbles.


Artemis Papathanassiou, MFA of Greece and Member of the National Consultative Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures commented: “of a major importance, is operative paragraph 7 of the Resolution, which, for the first time, recognizes the recent institution of International Conferences on the Return or Restitution of cultural property (Seoul, Ancient Olympia, Dunhuang, Nevsehir), as well as their concluding documents. Among them, the 'Ancient Olympia Recommendation' of 2013, which calls, among others, for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures.  It is for the first time that a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution, in its operative part, refers to this issue, even indirectly.”

More on the Olympia Conference here  

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