Why do archaeologists need international law?
Mr. Leonard de Wit, President of the Europae Archaeologiae Consilium and Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
Thursday August 31st, 14.00-15.15 hrs., room 2.1, followed by session 257 Malta: A roadmap towards a global Convention
It is not a rarity that the wish for international law is provoked by dissatisfaction with the acting of government within a nation state. In despair archaeologists can be looking for a Big Brother abroad, who can come to rescue. If the plea for more or better international conventions for the dealing with archaeological heritage can be tracked back to this sentiment, this plea it is likely to fail.
This key note will – in short – explain the genesis of international law for dummy’s (and archaeologists). What triggers the need for international cooperation? When and why do we put our faith in legally binding conventions? And what does ‘legally binding’ means in an international context. To answer these questions one needs to have an overview on the international law which already exist. More in particular It is important to get a grip on the working and potential of the Valletta convention and the Unesco World Heritage Convention. In the end it might be a good idea to make better use of the things we already have, instead of putting a lot of energy in producing new arrangements (with a very insecure outcome).
Leonard de Wit studied law at Utrecht University and is a legal expert on (international) heritage management. He works for the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. For 10 years he was Head of the department of Strategic and International affairs. In that position he was responsible for the implementation of the heritage conventions of UNESCO and the Council of Europe. Recently he changed jobs within the Cultural Heritage Agency and became head of the regional advisory department. Since march 2016 Leonard de Wit is acting President of the Europae Archaeologiae Consilium (EAC). He is a member of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Legal, Administrative and Financial Issues (ICLAFI). And he is guest lecturer for a master course on international conservation policies at Leuven University (Raymond Lemaire International Center for Conservation).