From: Mike Heyworth [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 14 March 2002 23:17
DCMS news release
42/02 14 March 2002
ARTS MINISTER SAYS UK WILL SIGN UP TO UNESCO CONVENTION ON ILLICIT CULTURAL
TRADE THIS SUMMER
She also announces continued funding for Portable Antiquities Scheme
The UK will sign up to the UNESCO Convention on illicit trade in cultural
property by July, Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone announced today.
Speaking at the Standing Conference on Portable Antiquities, Baroness
"I am glad to be able to announce today that all the legal issues relating
to the way in which the UK intends to implement the Convention have now been
resolved. I am this week giving the order that the formal process of
accession should begin. This involves publication of the Convention as a
Command Paper, together with an Explanatory Memorandum.
"It is our intention that this will take place by the end of April. The
Convention then needs Parliamentary approval and our aim is that the process
of accession should be complete by July."
The Minister also pointed to the continued success of the Portable
Antiquities Scheme, introduced in 1997, which aims to encourage people to
report archaeological finds. Since 1999 the Scheme has been supported by a
network of finds liaison officers - young archaeologists largely based in
The Scheme is being taken forward by a consortium of national bodies led by
Resource: the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries.
Tessa Blackstone said:
"Resource has submitted a lottery bid for three-year funding for a national
network of finds liaison officers. I understand this bid will be considered
by the Trustees in April. In the meanwhile, I have decided that pending a
decision, my Department will provide continued funding of all the present
posts for the coming year."
Among key achievements of the Scheme:
* the Portable Antiquities website receives over 80,000 page requests a
month and is part of the National Grid for Learning;
* finds liaison officers held 362 finds identification days over the first
three years of the Scheme;
* over 66,000 objects have been examined in the first three years.
For the longer term, the Minister said proposals by Resource in their recent
report, Renaissance for the Regions, for a network of regional museum hubs
to provide centres of excellence could also provide a framework for a
network of finds liaison posts. The Department is in talks with Resource
Notes to Editors
1. The UNESCO Convention gives members the right to recover stolen
antiquities, primarily ancient and religious artefacts, which surface in the
countries of fellow signatories. It does not require retrospective action
2. The Standing Conference on Portable Antiquities meets annually and is
made up of representatives of some 30 organisations with an interest in
portable antiquities. It is convened by the Council for British Archaeology.
3. Further information on the Portable Antiquities Scheme is available from
www.finds.org.uk or from its coordinator Roger Bland on 020 7323 8611 or
email [log in to unmask]