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  • Writer's picturevasilios ioakimidis

The Parthenon Marbles question should not be reduced to a case of legalistic instrumentalism.

An Athens based non governmental organisation, known as the “Athenian’s Association”,

has decided to appeal before the European Court of Human Rights against the refusal of the British Museum to accept mediation regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles. The basis of the 'Association's' argument appears to be that the individual rights of their members as defined in Articles 8, 9, 10 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated by the British Museum’s actions. I had no previous knowledge of this ‘Association’ but a brief navigation through its website (written in the obsolete archaic/polytonic Greek language!) gives the impression of a rather elitist union which claims to be 'representing the interests' of the ‘offsprings of native Athenians’ (sic). My first impression is that this action is nothing more than an irresponsible publicity stunt for two main reasons:

a) The decision of the Greek State has been that this case needs to be resolved through means of diplomacy and political pressure. The logic here is that litigation may limit the options for political and diplomatic interventions which have obviously been a strong card in the hands of the Greek State. Also, a court ruling in favour of the British Museum's actions could be catastrophic for the future of the campaign. The Greek State's cost/benefit analysis suggested that this is a risk not worth taking. This approach needs to be respected (and my humble opinion is the correct one)

b) Court action on behalf of the “offsprings of native Athenians” (a hugely problematic self-description) reduces the ‘Parthenon Marbles’ case, an otherwise powerful political issue with important dimensions linked to political and cultural atrocities committed in the colonial era, to a case of legalistic instrumentalism. Therefore, it deprives the campaign from its political substance. It also adopts a dangerously individualistic approach to an issue of collective (it wouldn't be an exaggeration to call it universal) importance.

This of course is very interesting case which I will be following closely

The claimants' press release can be found in the link below

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