CIMAM statement on the US government sanctions against Iran and Syria

Recently the Board of CIMAM found itself in an unprecedented situation in relation to a delegate to our upcoming conference. Mahnaz Asadi, Head of Museum, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), had been invited to participate in the Singapore conference, with support from the Getty Foundation. We were delighted to offer this to her, and she was delighted to accept.

Just last week, the Getty Foundation informed us that attendance by an Iranian government employee at the conference without a specific license from the U.S. government puts U.S. sponsors at risk of violating  existing U.S. sanctions regarding the government of Iran. These sanctions have been in place since 2012, but the Getty only recently learned that the scope of the sanctions was broader and the exceptions narrower than they had previously believed.

Unfortunately, the application process for a license can take many months. Unaware of the scope of restrictions, the Getty did not apply for a license for Mahnaz. Therefore, if Mahnaz participates in the conference even as a delegate not supported by the Getty, the Getty would have to withdraw support for the whole programme and CIMAM would be in the unfortunate position of having to return all grant funds.

As the travel grants for the 20 curators supported by the Getty have already been expended, and the conference takes place in less than two weeks, the Board has decided that the only feasible option is to offer our colleague a definite place at the conference in 2018 which will allow time to seek an exemption.

The Getty is as dismayed as we are and is committed to supporting a global network of professionals from all countries, and to do so in compliance with all applicable laws. They remain fully committed to furthering these goals, and are currently exploring the process for licenses for future projects.

If this does not resolve the issue, the CIMAM Board has taken the decision to cease the Getty travel grants program as the situation would clearly be untenable. Alternative sources of funding would be sought but a place for Mahnaz at the 2018 conference is guaranteed regardless of the outcome.

The CIMAM Board deplores the fact that the sanctions are preventing museum professionals in Iran from taking part in global discussions about museum practice.

This topic will be included in the agenda of the next CIMAM General Assembly to be held in Singapore on Sunday, November 12 from 14:15 to 16:15 hrs to be discussed by CIMAM members.