U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard and Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed signed a bilateral cultural property agreement on January 20, 2022, in a ceremony in Abuja attended by members of the Nigerian government and the U.S. Mission.
This agreement will enhance our strong cooperation in preserving Nigerian cultural sites and museum collections through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. Over the past decade, the United States has partnered with the Nigerian government and state institutions to fund projects totaling over a million dollars to strengthen Nigeria’s cultural heritage management capacity.
This agreement solidifies our shared commitment to combat looting and trafficking of precious cultural property by enabling the United States to impose import restrictions on certain categories of Nigerian archaeological and ethnological material and establishes a process for the return of trafficked cultural objects, which will reduce the incentive to loot sites in Nigeria. The agreement will also foster interchange between U.S. and Nigerian cultural institutions with the aim of increasing public awareness of Nigeria’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.
The United States is unwavering in its commitment to protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world, and to prevent trafficking, which is often used to fund terrorist and criminal networks. The 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. The United States has signed cultural property agreements with several countries in the region, including Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Mali, and Morocco.