Colombia

Share

I. Cultural Property Agreement with the U.S.

On March 15, 2006, the United States and Colombia entered into a bilateral agreement (PDF), or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), imposing import restrictions on certain categories of archaeological and Colonial ecclesiastical materials from Colombia.

The United States and Colombia extended and amended (PDF) the MOU, effective March 15, 2011. The MOU was extended and amended (PDF) for an additional five years, effective on March 15, 2016.

II. Summary of the Basis for the Agreement

Pillage of archaeological and Colonial ecclesiastical material threatens Colombia’s cultural heritage. The diverse pre-Columbian cultures of Colombia achieved a high degree of technological, agricultural, and artistic achievement. Systematic archaeological study of many of the ancient cultures of Colombia remains in its early stages. When sites are looted, parts of the rich history of Colombia are irrevocably lost. In addition, Colonial period ecclesiastical ethnological materials are deeply meaningful for those who witness their ceremonial and ritual use. They continue to connect people to their past and to their cultural identity.

The MOU is in response to a request from the Government of the Republic of Colombia made under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (PDF). U.S. import restrictions are intended to reduce the incentive for pillage and trafficking of cultural objects.

In addition to providing protection through import restrictions, the bilateral agreement also advances the agenda of the Summit of the Americas, where governments in the Western Hemisphere have pledged to enhance appreciation of indigenous cultures and cultural artifacts through various collaborative means.

III. Categories of Objects Subject to Import Restriction

Categories of restricted archaeological materials range in date from approximately 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1530, and include objects made of ceramics, textiles, metals, stone, shell, bone, wood, and basketry.

Restricted ethnological materials range in date from A.D. 1530 to 1830, and include original documents and incunabula; and objects used for rituals and religious ceremonies including Colonial religious art, such as paintings and sculpture, reliquaries, altars, altar objects, and liturgical vestments.

Restricted ethnological materials range in date from A.D. 1530 to 1830, and include original documents and incunabula; and objects used for rituals and religious ceremonies including Colonial religious art, such as paintings and sculpture, reliquaries, altars, altar objects, and liturgical vestments.

The Designated List (PDF) of protected object types was published by the Department of Homeland Security on March 17, 2006, in the Federal Register.

IV. Import Restrictions

Objects described in the Designated List associated with the 2006 Agreement may enter the U.S. only if they have a valid export permit issued by Colombian authorities, or documentation that they left Colombia prior to March 17, 2006, the effective date of this restriction.

Under the 1973 Pre-Columbian Monumental or Architectural Sculpture or Murals Statute (PDF), monumental or architectural sculpture or murals may be imported into the U.S. only with an export license issued by the country of origin or documentation that they left the country of origin prior to June 1, 1973.

V. For More Information

United States: Cultural Heritage Center (culprop@state.gov)

Colombia: Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia
Calle 12 No. 2-41
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
E-mail: icanh@mincultura.gov.co
Web site: http://www.icanh.gov.co/

Bilateral Agreements

Learn more about the agreements countries have signed with the U.S. to protect cultural artifacts.