United States and Mali Heritage Protection Agreement Extended

The United States and Mali have agreed to extend the protection of archaeological sites in the African country following the destruction of Sufi religious sites. The sites had sparked international fur or after ultra-conservative Islamists had destroyed the UNESCO World Heritage Sites earlier this summer in a move condemned across the world. "The Department of State is pleased to announce the extension of the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Mali Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from Mali from the Palaeolithic Era (Stone Age) to Approximately the Mid-Eighteenth Century, effective September 19, 2012 for a period of five years, demonstrating America's commitment to antiquities preservation," a statement from the US read.

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Mali's sites is needed now more than ever

Sankore Mosque"This extension, consistent with a recommendation made by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, represents a continuation of cooperation that began in 1993 with the imposition of emergency US import restrictions to staunch the pillage of Mali's rich archaeological heritage and the illicit trafficking in such material," it added. Officials in Mali praised the move by Washington, telling that the effort to protect and preserve Mali's sites is needed now more than ever after the destruction in recent months.

"The Government of the Republic of Mali requested this agreement 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. The Convention offers a framework of cooperation among State Parties to reduce the further pillage of intact archaeological sites; an activity that destroys information about past cultures and places a nation's cultural heritage in jeopardy.

"Sites in the region of the Niger River Valley, for example, represent a continuum of civilizations from the Neolithic period to the Colonial era, lending archaeological significance to the region. Also included in the import restriction is material from the Tellem burial caves of the Bandiagara Cliffs as well as material found in the region of the Sahara Desert," added the State Department's statement.

Sankore Mosque Timbuktu
Sankore Mosque Timbuktu

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