Greece could use international justice to regain Parthenon marbles
The Parthenon marbles have been at the centre of what can only be described as a fierce tug of war between Greece – the land of its origin – and the UK.
The antiquities, which are deemed to be among some of the finest examples of their kind in the world, have been in possession of the UK for nearly two centuries, much to the dismay of campaigners and many Greeks.
The disdain towards Britain’s decision not to hand back the treasures is evident even outside the British Museum itself, with a large billboard set up by campaigners demanding that the UK “Please give us back our marbles.”
Countless attempts to repatriate the marbles have failed, but Athens has not given up hope of being reunited with one of its most famed ancient treasures, and could now even turn to international justice in an attempt to win its case.
The passion that drives this bid seems to be as strong as ever, with the country’s culture minister Aristides Baltas recently telling The Guardian: “We are trying to develop alliances which we hope would eventually lead to an international body like the United Nations to come with us against the British Museum.”
He added: “If the UN represents all nations of the world and all nations of the world say ‘the marbles should be returned’ then we’ll go to court because the British Museum would be against humanity.
“We do not regard the Parthenon as exclusively Greek but rather as a heritage of humanity.”
To bring such a case before the UN would be an interesting move for the Greek government, with even Mr Balatas admitting that there has never really been a precedent in how the law deals with such cases.
Exploring this avenue is seen by many as a risky move as failure is likely to deal a hammerblow to the chances of the classical art pieces ever returning to Greece.
However, Alexis Mantheakis, chairman of the New Zealand-based International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee, said such pressure is a necessary part of their cause.
He told The Guardian: “The British have never given anything back, be it colonies or artefacts, without pressure. To ignore that fact is to undermine the chances of any success in the campaign for the return of the Parthenon sculptures.”
The marbles are largely seen as some of the most impressive examples of classical art to have been created in the ancient world.