On Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Lee Satterfield and Ambassador of Yemen to the United States Mohammed Al-Hadhrami, accompanied by the Department’s Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, signed a bilateral cultural property agreement that renews and extends protections for Yemeni cultural property which were put in place in 2020 on an emergency basis.
The signing of this agreement is a major milestone in the U.S.-Yemen bilateral relationship and is a framework for cooperation between the two countries to combat cultural property trafficking, while encouraging its legal exchange for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes. The agreement builds on the United States’ long-term collaboration to preserve Yemen’s cultural heritage through U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation grants to NGO partners totaling more than $550,000 and ranging from the restoration of historic buildings to the preservation of ancient manuscripts. The signing of this agreement also builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for a durable resolution to the Yemen conflict and reaffirms U.S. support for Yemeni sovereignty.
The United States has been unwavering in its commitment to protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world and to restrict trafficking in cultural property, which is often used to fund terrorist and criminal networks. The U.S.-Yemen cultural property agreement was negotiated by the State Department under the U.S. law implementing the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. With this agreement, Yemen joins 25 existing U.S. bilateral cultural property agreement partners. In addition, U.S. emergency import restrictions remain in place on cultural property from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
Ambassador Fagin: “The cultural property agreement we have just signed is very important to cultural heritage in Yemen. It is our hope that the agreement will enable us to access more funding to help the Yemeni government fight the trafficking of Yemeni artifacts into the United States and other countries, and that it will increase our cooperation with the government as evidenced by the number of looted objects seized by U.S. law enforcement and returned to Yemen. We look forward to the day that peace has returned to Yemen and cultural heritage and tourism will help strengthen the economy.”