Extension of Bilateral Agreement to Continue Import Restrictions on Archaeological and Ethnological Material

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 12, 2011

With an exchange of diplomatic notes, the United States and the Plurinational State of Bolivia extended their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to protect Bolivia’s cultural heritage for an additional five years, effective December 4, 2011.

This MOU concerns the imposition of import restrictions on archaeological material from the pre-Columbian cultures and certain ethnological material from the Colonial and Republican Periods of Bolivia. It will continue to strengthen and enhance collaboration to reduce looting and trafficking of archaeological and colonial materials, and provide for their return to Bolivia should they be discovered entering the United States without export permits. The MOU also aims to further the international interchange of such materials for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes.

On December 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published notification of this extension and the continuation of U.S. import restrictions on categories of archaeological and ethnological material. The extension of the MOU, first signed on December 4, 2001, is consistent with a recommendation of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

This cooperation between the United States and Bolivia is possible within the framework of the 1970 UNESCO Convention to reduce the pillage of cultural heritage sites. Through special enabling legislation, the U.S. Department of State implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The U.S. Department of State accepts requests from countries seeking import restrictions on archaeological or ethnological material, the pillage of which places their national cultural heritage in jeopardy. Under the President of the United States’ authority, and following a review process undertaken by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, the U.S. Department of State may enter into a cultural property agreement with the requesting country.

Further information about the MOU and the categories of objects covered by the import restriction may be found at: http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/blfact.html Media Contact: Carla Coolman, CoolmanCH@state.gov.

PRN: 2011/2115