Showing 2 results for the tag: Legality.

June 21, 2015

UK to ratify 1954 Hague Convention on Cultural Property

Posted at 9:40 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

I’m not holding my breath on this one, as it is not the first time that I have heard this, but the UK Minister of Culture John Whittingdale says that the UK will introduce legislation to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

For many years now, various excuses have been given for not ratifying the treaty, despite pressure from archaeologists, NGOs and many within Parliament.

The current status, although not correctly reported in many news sources, is that the UK signed the convention in 1954, but has yet to ratify it. This groups us with Ireland, Andora and the Phillipines, ass all other countries that signed were also happy to ratify it.

The current impetus to finally ratify this document is no doubt related to the press coverage of the actions of ISIS in Syria and Northen Iraq. One wonders though why the looting following the deposing of Saddam Hussein in the second Gulf War (or many other similar cases prior to that) was not enough to convince the UK of the importance of the document.

It is a step in the right direction, but there are still many more steps that ought to be taken – not least ratifying the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects

Claims are sometimes thrown about, that the reason for not ratifying was that it would help facilitate the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, although I have never been entirely certain that this was the case. I am assuming that the government (which is opposed to the return of the Marbles) will have looked into the legalities of this particular aspect in detail already.




Britain signs convention on protecting treasures in war zones
Toby Helm
Sunday 21 June 2015 00.05 BST

It’s come years late, but the culture secretary is to pledge the UK to helping save historic and artistic artefacts under threat in conflict-torn countries

Britain is to end years of indecision by ratifying an international agreement aimed at preventing the loss of cultural and historic artefacts in conflict zones, amid growing outrage at the destruction by Isis militants of ancient sites in Iraq and Syria.
Read the rest of this entry »

December 3, 2014

Did people really think Elgin’s removal of marbles was legal

Posted at 9:01 am in Elgin Marbles

I have been aware of this letter for quite some time, but due to the fact that most of the articles I post are from current news sources, it has not been mentioned on this site before.

Many claim that at time of the removal of the Marbles Elgin was merely doing the same as many others & that it was not called into question. There are various things that suggest this is not the case, but the argument is still pushed as fact by many supporters of retention of the sculptures.

A letter from Robert Adair (who was in charge of British affairs in Constantinople in 1809 – 1810) clearly in a response to a request from Lord Elgin. It appears that Elgin had asked Adair for a letter to help to bolster his claim for the Marbles, although as no copy of this request exists, it is hard to know exactly what the request was.

Adair’s reply to Elgin was clear – “that the Porte absolutely denied your having any property in those marbles. By this expression I understood the Porte to mean that the persons who had sold the marbles to your Lordship had no right so to dispose of them.”

From this wording, it seems fairly clear that to Adair at least (and he was a senior diplomat on the ground in the country that was supposed to have permitted Elgin to remove the sculptures), that Elgin had absolutely no legal entitlement to the sculptures whatsoever.

You can read a much more in-depth analysis of this letter, along with photos of the original on Theodore Theodorou’s website.

Below is the full text of the letter.


July 31st 1811

My Lord

In answer to your Lordship’s enquiry respecting the marbles collected by your Lordship at Athens, and for leave to transmit which to this country I was directed by the Sec(retary) of State for foreign affairs to apply to the Turkish government, I have to inform your Lordship that Mr Pisani more than once assured me that the Porte absolutely denied your having any property in those marbles. By this expression I understood the Porte to mean that the persons who had sold the marbles to your Lordship had no right so to dispose of them.

At the same time I beg leave to add that this communication was not made to me in any formal conference with the Turkish ministers.

I have the honour to be,
my Lord,
your Lordship’s most obed(ien)t
and humble serv(an)t
R. Adair