The Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, is a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803. Since then, there has been great controvercy surrounding the legitimacy of this permit and the validity of the UK's claim to keep the Marbles instead of sending them home to Greece. I have been following this saga on my blog and recently there was a new development: the 'Athenians’ Association' has launched a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights against the United Kingdom for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

According to the Association, the initiative to launch the lawsuit came when the board of directors was informed that the United Kingdom responded negatively to participating in mediation a procedure, as part of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Goods in the Country of Origin.

Not only did the plea not get rejected, but it was lodged, bringing back to life the issue of the return of the Marbles in Greece. According to Stratis Stratigis, member of the association’s board during a press conference in Plaka:

"[...] the Athenians’ Association has been following the issue closely for years and when it realized in March 2015 that Britain had rejected even its participation in the mediation procedure, it decided there was an opportunity to appeal before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as a private association, independently from the State."

This is the first time that this case was led in front of a judicial authority that could decide based on justice, whereas, according to jurist Vasileio Sotiropoulo, the plea was made 'to the only foreign court that an association can resort to'. The historic 'Athenians’ Association' has been operating for 120 years, since 1895.