Emergency Actions in Iraq

Sculpture of a lioness attacking a Nubian (720 B.C.), stolen in Baghdad in April 2003, n°2003/22019-1.4 ©INTERPOL

UNESCO undertakes various emergency activities in order to raise awareness among the international community about the necessity of protecting cultural heritage and the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, especially in crisis situations.

Highlighting resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003 of the United Nations Security Council, UNESCO recommends a ban on the sale or transfer of Iraqi cultural property of historic and archaeological value. UNESCO is pursuing its awareness-raising and diplomatic activities so that the international community strengthens its work against the trafficking of Iraqi property and facilitates the restitution of vestiges.

October 2012

April 2011

January 2010

April 2008

  • In April 2008, significant progress was made by the United States, which imposed restrictions on imports from Iraq, allowing for better protection of Iraqi cultural heritage.

March 2008

  • During the International Conference on the Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin, Athens, 17-March 2008, the numerous participating international experts discussed the alarming cases of plundering and illicit trafficking of cultural Iraqi property. Indeed, out of the 14,000 artefacts plundered from the Bagdad Museum in April 2003, less half have been found and approximately 4000 were illicitly exported out of the country. The restitution to the National Museum of the stolen artefacts is slow but progressive, as can be seen with the return of more than 2000 objects  in March 2008.

November 2007

May 2003

  • In May, 2003, further to the measures taken by the United States and in application of the resolution 1483 of the Security Council of United Nations, the Secretariat of UNESCO again reminded all its Member States of the necessity to fight against illicit trafficking and looting of cultural Iraqi property.
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