On September 27, 2022, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Lee Satterfield convened the 16 member agencies of the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC) for the second time this year. The Committee’s discussion focused on recent multilateral meetings on cultural heritage, policy changes and increased capacities.
Assistant Secretary Satterfield and staff of the Cultural Heritage Center briefed the Committee on the outcome of the G20 Culture Ministerial Meeting, where culture ministers from Member States met to discuss common goals, including the post-Covid-19 recovery in the cultural sector. At the ministerial meeting, the United States took a strong stance against Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian cultural identity and the heritage of minority groups, and strengthened U.S. bilateral relations with Indonesia (Chair of the G20 2022) and India (Chair of the G20 2023).
The Committee discussed the new project of the Smithsonian Institution Ethical Returns and Shared Stewardship Policy released this spring. The new policy allows for shared stewardship agreements and the return of museum collections to individuals and communities in appropriate circumstances, based on ethical considerations and best practices. The United States is a success story in shared management of cultural heritage and looks forward to continuing to invest in long-term relationships and capacity-building initiatives with countries or groups that engage in policy. .
The Committee also spoke about the officers of the newly restored US Army monuments. These modern “Monuments Men” are members of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs Corps responsible for advising the military on cultural heritage issues, legal obligations, and diplomatic issues encountered while deployed around the world, particularly in times of war and political crisis. The first graduate class Army Monuments Officer Training in August included 14 US Army officers, an archivist and eight foreign military representatives from the UK, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, France, Lebanon and Austria. This training was developed by the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and the US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.
Continuation of the April 2022 CHCC meetingthe Committee applauded the Institute of Museum and Library Services for its recent award of $50,000 to the University of Pennsylvania to support and develop the On-Call Cultural Property Expert Program, which facilitates consultations between US law enforcement officials and experts in archeology and art history when expertise is needed during investigations. The one-year grant will support program staff and expand the recruitment of subject matter experts to regions most in need.
The U.S. Department of State established the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee in 2016 to coordinate U.S. government efforts to protect and preserve cultural property internationally when threatened by political instability, armed conflict or natural or other disasters.