UNIDROIT implications?

Gary Noonan carabid at CSD.UWM.EDU
Fri Jul 14 13:09:19 CDT 1995

         I agree that we come to different conclusions by reading the same
text. The text in my previous message (quoting part of UNIDROIT) to me means
that scientific specimens are  absolute covered by UNIDROIT. To me there is
no ambiguity about that. Moreover, even if I thought there was an ambiguity
or agreed completely with Sven O Kullander's understanding, I would be
concerned about how U.S. bureaucrats would interpret the proposed treaty.
         In the United States we've had considerable turmoil over the Fish
and Wildlife officials promulgating rules to enforce laws passed by
Congress. The rules to many systematists seem different from what Congress
intended. The rules make it impractical for museums to receive and send
specimens to foreign countries. After much input from professional societies
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (after about a year or more) proposed to modify
the original rules. The proposed easing of rules regarding shipping and
receiving museum specimens is not yet in place and apparently only covers
importing or receiving specimens from abroad. Probably another year or so
will be needed to get relief for shipments to foreign museums. The U.S. Fish
and Wildlife people individually give different interpretations of the rules.
         I believe that U.S. officials would, if UNIDROIT is adopted, come
up with rules that would greatly harm natural history museums. This believe
is based on viewing the turmoil caused by earlier rules designed to enforce
laws.  From prior experience with seeing how U.S. officials interpret
things, I'm very certain that the phrase "specimens of fauna, flora" would
mean that animals and plants are covered. They would ask, "Isn't an animal
part of a fauna?" I wouldn't want to have the task of trying to convince
them otherwise.
         Perhaps what is important is not what we as individuals believe the
UNIDROIT treaty says. More important is how government officials would
enforce it and the paperwork and rules they would create to enforce the treaty.

At 07:42 PM 7/14/95 +0200, Sven O Kullander wrote:
>The cultural differences are indeed greater than I imagined! We read the
>same text the same way and come to very different conclusions. (And, Gary -
>did I not give examples of what I understand the Convention deals with,
>precisely from animals and plants.)


>As an example of why I consider the expression 'Rare collections and
>specimens of fauna....', etc., to relate to collections or specimens of
>cultural value in the first place, and by any sense of reason not to every
>possible plant or animal specimen, please check out Appendix 1, '(i) postage
>stamps, revenue and similar stamps, singly or in collections'. Here, they do
>not even write 'rare'. To me it seems unlikely that this convention deals
>with every stolen stamp or itself makes border crossings of stamps illegal.
>Thus, in my view, the convention does not put cultural value on scientific
>specimens of animals and plants, but as I already pointed out, some museum
>specimens have undoubted cultural value and the convention clearly applies
>to those specimens.

  * Gary Noonan, Curator of Insects, Milwaukee Public Museum  *
  * 800 W. Wells,  Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233 USA             *
  * and Adjunct Associate Professor of Zoology, University of *
  * Wisconsin-Milwaukee carabid at alpha1.csd.uwm.edu            *
  * voice (414) 278-2762  fax (414) 223-1396                  *

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