About Rick St. Hilaire

Rick St. Hilaire is an experienced attorney, an adjunct professor of cultural property law, and is certified by the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection as an institutional protection manager. He has been practicing law since 1993. Attorney St. Hilaire is a former elected chief prosecutor and a former 15 year veteran prosecuting attorney. His law practice emphasizes cultural property law, criminal justice, and government affairs. He teaches Cultural Property Law at Plymouth State University's Heritage Studies Program, serves on the board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, is a member of the AIA Cultural Heritage Policy Committee, is a past Coordinator of the Legal Issues in Conservation Working Group of the International Council of Museums Conservation Committee, and served as Co-Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association's Art and Cultural Heritage Law Committee. He earned his B.A., magna cum laude, from Columbia University and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He is a licensed member of the bar of NH, the federal district court of NH, and the bar of Washington, DC (inactive).

America’s commitment to safeguarding heritage

The United States is committed to protecting history and heritage from theft. It is no surprise that our nation demonstrates leadership in this area since an overwhelming majority of Americans (96%) support laws designed to protect archaeological resources, according to a Harris Interactive poll. In addition, more than three in five Americans believe that historical artifacts should not be removed from another sovereign nation without that country’s assent. This public support gives vitality to America’s application of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, the preeminent global agreement that aims to safeguard cultural property from theft, illegal excavation, and smuggling.

Our nation first sought to protect its own cultural treasures when President Theodore Roosevelt enacted the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Reagan built on this legacy by looking beyond America’s borders, signing into law the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA), which authorizes the president to enter into bilateral agreements that promote the preservation objectives of the UNESCO Convention. Since the CPIA took effect, the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) has successfully evaluated requests by nations seeking American assistance when those countries’ archaeological heritage was jeopardized by pillage. The result of CPAC’s work has permitted the president to take action against the illegal trafficking of historical artifacts while simultaneously forging constructive international partnerships. Since 1983, the White House has approved several bilateral agreements that have assisted our friends and neighbors in Canada, Italy,and elsewhere. Continuing this tradition of American leadership is CPAC’s recognition that the looting of particularly identified types of ancient coins can place a nation’s archaeology in jeopardy. When coins are bound to the archaeological record in a significant and inseparable way, they become infused with irreplaceable historical information. To strip such coins from the ground without first evaluating and documenting their evidentiary value steals history. The forward-looking agreement between the United States and Cyprus, given effect on July 16, 2007, acknowledges this conclusion.

When Congress enacted the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, it determined that America’s unique archaeological resources were endangered and required protection. In the same way that the United States acted to secure the cultural heritage found within its borders, our country assists other sovereign nations do the same, thereby helping to protect our collective global history from large-scale transnational looting and trafficking. It is expected that America will continue to vigorously pursue laws, policies, and enforcement programs designed to safeguard domestic and international cultural resources for the benefit of future generations.

Rick St. Hilaire
Vice President (former), SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone