Egypt Minister of Antiquities Hawas to assert rights of countries with ancient civilisations in Peru conference

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 2 Jul 2011

The protection of ancient artefacts, whether it be copyrights or the return of those held in international museums or smuggled antiquities, is one item on Egypt's minister of antiquities list at the Peru conference

Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass travelled yesterday to Peru on an official four-day visit to participate in the Second International Conference to Recover Stolen Antiquities to be held in the capital city of Lima, whose attendees come from over twenty countries.

At the conference opening session before Peru’s president Alan Garcia Perez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, Hawass will deliver Egypt's speech reminding the attendees that Egypt is the country that called for this conference to convene and that the first conference was held in Cairo in April last year with the presence of thirty countries.

Hawass said that Egypt’s expertise has, over the past two years, helped Peru recover twelve archaeological masks from the university, who had borrowed these mask from Peru for many years and refused to return them to their place of origin.

Following several discussions and repeated communication, Peru, with the help of Egyptian experts, was finally able to see their antiquities returned.

Before leaving to Peru Hawass told Ahram Online that he would concentrate his speech on Egypt’s experience in returning their illegally smuggled antiquities, the development of legislation for the protection of monuments and the preservation of state’s rights to return home their stolen artefacts - even the distinguished objects from international museums. A list of unique artefacts that countries want recovered was prepared in Cairo and named the “Wish List.”

Hawass added that the conference in Peru will solidify the position of all of the countries seeking restitution. Here, they will start the required communications and actions to demand the restitution of unique artefacts on display in a number of museums in Europe and the US.

The first session of the conference will be allocated for Egypt, where Hawass will speak about the challenges facing the archaeological sites, such as human infringements for economic and social activities, which can cause damage to archaeological facilities. He will also touch on Egypt’s vision for the development of archaeological sites, securing them through state-of-the-art technology and a push for public awareness to protect historic archaeological sites.

Hawass will not only highlight Egypt’s interest in developing a legislative structure for the protection of monuments, but will demonstrate Egypt’s use of bilateral agreements as a means to show solidarity and reduce the smuggling of national monuments internationally.

The World Trade Agreement, according to Hawass, weighs heavily with respect to intellectual property rights of cultural products, specifically the preservation of intellectual and economic rights of states with ancient civilizations when any other entity wishes to make replicas or models of their artefacts.

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