South African Government position on the removal of cultural artefacts during the occupation of a territory by a foreign state

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NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NO: 360 (CW470E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO: 27-2015 OF 07 AUGUST 2015

Mr G Michalakis (Free State: DA) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

(1) What is the Government’s position on the removal of cultural artefacts during the occupation of a territory by a foreign state;

(2) whether, with reference to the returning of removed cultural artefacts and specifically the repatriation of Sarah Baartman’s remains to South Africa from France in 2002, her department will support a similar request by the Greek nation for the return of the Parthenon Marbles currently held in the British Museum; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? CW470E

REPLY

(1) South Africa is a state party to the following Conventions and the Government’s commitment to the protection of cultural property, as well as prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property, in line with these instruments, is therefore clear:

(a) The Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention, The Hague, 1954;

(b) The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, Paris, 14 November 1970; and

(c) The Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, The Hague, 26 March 1999.

2) The return of cultural artefacts cannot be equated to the repatriation of the remains of Sarah Baartman from France to South Africa, which is an issue of human life, human rights and human dignity, and which was arranged bilaterally between South Africa and France. However, as a State Party to the Conventions and Protocol referred to in paragraph (1), South Africa will support the request by the Greek nation for the return of the Parthenon Marbles currently held in the British Museum, as well as requests by other countries that are in similar situations.

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