American protection of Cambodian heritage up for renewal
The Cambodian government has asked the United States to extend its import restrictions on Cambodian archaeological materials. The restrictions were called into life to protect national heritage from pillaging and trafficking.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a 5-year agreement between the two countries, aimed at protecting antiquities from the Bronze Age through the Khmer Era. The agreement was first signed in 2003 and subsequently renewed in 2008. Now up for renewal once more, the American Cultural Property Advisory Committee will review the extension of the memorandum at the end of February.
In 1999, the United States implemented emergency restrictions to the import of Cambodian art manufactured during the Angkor era, when the concern arose that these artefacts were being looted at a rapid pace and smuggled out of Cambodia. The emergency import restrictions later formed the base for the bilateral agreement.
The MOU is not the only measure the American government has taken to protect Cambodian heritage. In a similar move, the United States attorney’s office recently filed a lawsuit against the renowned auction house Sotheby’s for trying to sell an antique statue that was looted from the Koh Ker temple complex: the infamous Duryodhana. Mary Kozlovski lined up the complexities of this acrimonious legal battle in a story for our December issue.