United States and Algeria Sign Agreement to Combat Trafficking and Protect Cultural Heritage

August 29, 2019
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce and Algerian Minister of Culture Meriem Merdaci signed a new bilateral cultural property agreement in Washington, D.C. on August 15. This agreement solidifies the shared commitment between the United States and Algeria to combat looting and trafficking of cultural objects, and to protect Algeria’s cultural heritage.
The agreement allows the United States to establish import restrictions on Algeria’s cultural property, thus reducing the incentive to loot archaeological sites in Algeria. The agreement also gives U.S. law enforcement the ability to repatriate looted cultural objects back to Algeria and it will foster interchange of Algerian cultural heritage with U.S. institutions.
“Our policy is clear: the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage and the trafficking of cultural property is unacceptable,” said Assistant Secretary Royce. “The cultural property agreement we sign today officially recognizes the joint commitment of the United States and Algeria to ensure that Algeria’s heritage will be protected and accessible for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.”
The agreement affirms the collective identity and the strength of Algerian communities through cultural heritage and the shared pride in tangible symbols of their history, from prehistoric rock art to artifacts with Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic roots. The United States acknowledges the threat to Algeria’s cultural patrimony and moving forward will work with the Government of Algeria to combat this destruction.