DACOR: U.S. Diplomatic Leadership and Cultural Heritage Protection
For generations, the practice of cultural heritage destruction - from souvenir hunting to systematic exploitation and destruction for scholarly or religious purposes - has been largely ignored as a U.S. diplomatic priority. After all, American art dealers and collectors, as well as scholars and institutions make up one of the world's greatest markets for historic and cultural artworks. A little-known 1972 UNESCO Convention, adopted to help provide nations with significant protections through bilateral agreements, has been underutilized until recently. With the discovery of evidence that ISIS had been systematically exploiting cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria as a fund-raising mechanism and publicly destroying ancient sites as part of its war on pre-Islamic cultures, many nations in the Middle East have begun to take action to protect themselves against terrorist financing and criminal gangs that exploit the recent regional chaos. In partnership with leading American NGOs and institutions, the U.S. government is today building partnerships with friends around the globe to restrict illegal trade and cultural heritage. Larry Schwartz recently retired from the State Department as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (2014-2017), where he advocated for bilateral cultural heritage agreements between the U.S. and countries in the Middle East region. This event costs $25 and includes lunch.