UNESCO

The Repatriation and Preservation of Artifacts and Archaeological Sites

 
 

unesco must deal with…

The legacy of colonialism to fulfill its mandate of protecting humanity’s cultural assets. Currently museums around the world contain artifacts which were forcefully taken from other cultures during warfare or archeological expeditions. While some efforts have been made to return these objects, in other cases museums are unwilling to part with them. Museums often argue that they are a place of safekeeping, that the artifacts were not wrongfully taken, or stress the benefits of displaying artifacts to the public. Private collections and the ongoing black market antiquities trade, on the other hand, remains a problem as it is more difficult to hold these entities accountable than it is to scrutinize public institutions.

Furthermore, there are pressing threats to the preservation of cultural sites around the world. Climate change is associated with several risks to ancient architecture, particularly rising sea levels, increasing natural disasters, and degradation from airborne pollutants. Unlike climate-proofing modern or utilitarian structures, much of the value of these sites is due to their locations and traditional techniques. This limits the types of strategies which may be employed to climate-proof these sites. The 21st century has also brought the threat of terrorists on cultural sites.

Delegates will discuss complex ethical questions revolving around artifact ownership, protection of cultural sites and minimizing the effects of climate change on archaeological sites of importance.