I have commented before on the difference between stewardship and ownership. The forthcoming Cairo conference seems to be continuing the onwership debate. Is the debate going to be about where specific items of world heritage should be on public display?
Thus the Parthenon marbles are known to have formed part of the architectural sculptures on the Athenian akropolis whether or not they are displayed in London or Athens. The head of Nefertiti continues to be part of the archaeological record of Amarna whether it remains on display in Berlin or is placed in the new exhibition in Cairo.
Those are two examples of the debate over the "ownership" of cultural property.
But the more complex issue is the ongoing destruction of archaeological sites. The 1970 UNESCO Convention reminded the universal community of the need to protect the archaeological record. And English-speaking archaeologists, museum curators and collectors were reminded of the issues by the 1973 AIA declaration. The debate needs to concentrate of how we, as an international community, can be good stewards of the archaeological sites.
Will the Cairo conference recognise the two separate issues?