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H.R. 1493 (114th): Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

H.R. 1493 would:

  • Direct the State Department to designate an existing employee to coordinate efforts to protect art around the world from being stolen and/or destroyed.
  • Establish a committee, which will meet once a year and be made up of representatives from various Federal agencies, who will "coordinate and inform Federal efforts to protect international cultural property".
  • Block importation of "archaeological or ethnological material of Syria" starting 120 days after the bill's enactment.
  • The import restrictions would expire in five years, but can be extended.

Thank you to Congressional Dish for their outline of H.R. 2620. This version is edited by GovTrack.

Last updated Sep 23, 2015. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 10, 2016.

(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the Senate on April 13, 2016. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

(Sec. 2) This bill expresses the sense of Congress that the President should establish an interagency coordinating committee to coordinate and advance executive branch efforts to protect and preserve international cultural property at risk from political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters.

(Sec. 3) The President shall apply specified import restrictions with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Syria:

within 90 days; without regard to whether Syria is a state party to the convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property (adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization); and notwithstanding the requirement that an emergency condition applies. The President shall at least once a year determine whether at least one of the following conditions is met: (1) Syria is incapable of fulfilling the requirements to request an agreement pursuant to the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, and (2) it would be against the U.S. national interest to enter into such an agreement.

The President may waive such import restrictions for specified cultural property if the President certifies to Congress that: (1) the foreign owner or custodian of the specified cultural property has requested that the property be temporarily located in the United States for protection purposes, (2) the property shall be returned upon request to the foreign owner or custodian, and (3) the grant of a waiver will not contribute to illegal trafficking in cultural property or financing of criminal or terrorist activities.

Any archaeological or ethnological material that enters the United States pursuant to a waiver shall have immunity from seizure under P.L. 89-259 (which provides immunity from seizure for cultural items imported for temporary exhibition.)

(Sec. 4) The President shall report annually to Congress on executive branch efforts to protect and preserve international cultural property.