UNESCO, UK government, US government, government of Federal Republic of Germany and others

The responsible and ethical collecting by private individuals of antiquities obtained and distributed in accordance with all the relevant laws promotes an understanding of history and cultural understanding and tolerance, values important for the world today.

For centuries responsible collectors have protected the world's cultural heritage against those that would destroy and scatter it and obliterate it as a source of historical information. Private collecting adds to national efforts and promotes cultural preservation in all its richness, in a way museums alone could never accomplish.

The benefits of this activity are being threatened by unscrupulous and careless dealers who introduce onto the international market items of illicit, or unknown, and potentially recent (and possibly criminal) provenance. This affects everybody engaged in collecting, as it brings the whole field into disrepute. The media inform public opinion of the links between the trade in illicit (looted, stolen, fraudulent and smuggled) antiquities and organized transnational crime and terrorism. Through this the reputation of responsible collectors is being sullied by association with those others who willingly run the risk of buying (‘no questions asked’) such artefacts through careless approaches to due diligence from dealers unwilling and all too frequently unable to inform them of the origins of the objects they have in stock.

The undersigned support the creation of international agreement on the cleaning up of the antiquities trade through its regulation in the form of imposing a rigorous system of due diligence in the antiquities trade to determine and document licit origins of the objects offered. The burden of proof should be on the dealer to show that the items offered are licit, irrespective of the financial worth of the artefacts traded on the domestic and the international art market in full accordance with the law and modern ethical standards.

Many of us invest large sums of money and devote a considerable amount of time to our collecting, which is our passion. Some of us have the ambition that our collections can in the future be housed in public institutions for the public good and as our legacy. The resale and donation of these assets however is currently coming under threat by the bad reputation engendered by the current unregulated form of the antiquities market, awash with fraudulent, smuggled and unprovenenced items, and the numbers of dealers and fellow collectors opposed to its regulation.

We demand something is done to clean up the antiquities market so we buy in confidence and with a clear conscience, and may hold our heads up high when we say we are antiquities collectors.

We, the undersigned, call on UNESCO and Governments to institute legal and other measures to clean up the international antiquities market, to eliminate the risk for collectors of buying anonymous artefacts resulting from criminal activity (looting, theft, smuggling, fraud) and to prevent collectors' money being put to nefarious purposes (financing organized crime, terrorism, militant activity etc).

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The Support Responsible Antiquity Collecting petition to UNESCO, UK government, US government, government of Federal Republic of Germany and others was written by Ethical Collectors and is in the category Culture at GoPetition.