Mr. Hery Saripudin
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia
to the United Nations
Agenda item 43:
Return or Restitution of Cultural Property to the
Countries of Origin
New York, 16 November 2009
Indonesia attaches great importance to the issue of the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin. As a country with many archaeological artifacts dating from prehistoric times, Indonesia has taken many measures to preserve its valuable national heritage.
Among these is the enactment of Law No. 5 of 1992 regarding the conservation of cultural objects. The Government of Indonesia plans to revise this law to incorporate not only the physical and material aspects of culture, such as objects and heritage sites, but also the “non-physical” aspects, such as customs and art.
Indonesia acknowledges the 2005 launching of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Laws Database which serves as a reference tool and compendium of good practice, as well as the UNESCO-WCO Model Export Certificate for Cultural Objects as a tool to combat illicit trafficking in cultural property.
We further commend the efforts of UNESCO in promoting the relevant international standard-setting instruments; for taking steps to raise public awareness of relevant restitution and illicit trafficking issues; and for the work of its Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation.
We also believe that it is important for States to continue to do their utmost to prevent the illicit appropriation of cultural objects.
Indonesia underlines the fact that this resolution concerns basically the recovery of cultural property that was stolen or obtained in an illicit manner. My delegation notes, however, that there are many legal difficulties which are generally encountered internationally in cases to recover stolen or illicitly exported cultural property where the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1972 (UNESCO Convention) and the Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law of 1995 (UNIDROIT Convention) do not apply.
Indonesia would like to underline the criminal dimension of this issue. As we know, it is the nature of stolen cultural objects to be sent across international borders illegally.
Obviously, the international dimension is attractive to sophisticated operators whose destinations of choice are those nations where they feel they can evade law-enforcement, or where they feel they may be able to exploit perceived loopholes in the regulation.
Hence, Indonesia believes that in order to prevent and to further deter these sophisticated criminals from trafficking cultural property in an illicit manner, and in order to avoid creating a safe haven for them, States need to cooperate to address the legal difficulties which are not covered by the UNESCO and UNIDROIT Conventions. Indonesia believes that cooperation amongst States could be done through mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition, as they are closely and mutually linked. Moreover, mutual legal assistance and extradition are instrumental for ensuring effective criminal proceedings against perpetrators of such crimes.
Lastly, in addition to cooperation amongst States, it is important for all parties of the international community to continue to cooperate within the framework of the United Nations and UNESCO for increased mobilization and action to promote heritage values and to safeguard, return and encourage restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin.
I thank you.
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations, New York
325 East 38th Street, New York, NY, 10016, USA
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