For 40th Year, UNESCO Can’t Solve Stolen Parthenon Marbles Dilemma

As it has since 1984, Greece made a case to the United Nations cultural arm UNESCO for the return of the stolen Parthenon Marbles housed in the British Museum but got nowhere once again.

That happened at a meeting of the organization in Paris where the Culture Ministry told the Intergovernmental Committee for the Return of Cultural Property that, “The Parthenon Marbles and the symbolism they contain are an integral part of the Greek cultural heritage and the Greek cultural identity.”

The ministry wants the United Kingdom, which won’t change a law prohibiting the museum from returning stolen treasures to their countries of origin, “to demonstrate in practice the will to comply with the Committee’s recommendations and decisions.”

The Greek arguments “were warmly received by the vast majority of the member states of the Intergovernmental Committee,” the ministry said before UNESCO again asked both sides to figure something out as it has no real powers.

The UNESCO panel reiterated its recommendations for an answer to be found, which have largely been ignored, and said the two countries should “continue making all necessary efforts in order to find an equally acceptable solution.”

The case of the Parthenon Sculptures was first submitted to the Committee in 1984. Since then, the Committee has been examining the case during each of its sessions, adopting 18 recommendations for a mutually acceptable solution.

UK and British Museum officials have offered to loan Greece the stolen artifacts but only on condition that Greece stipulate they belong to the British and the museum and that other valuable artifacts be sent as cultural hostage property.

Greece’s New Democracy government, which toyed with the idea of a loan, has since said it won’t go along with that proposal but isn’t willing to go to international courts or bodies to try to force the return.


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