This book contains the first full published account of the disasters that have befallen Iraq's cultural heritage after the removal of Saddam Hussein. It analyzes why the array of laws and international conventions, the advocacy efforts of cultural heritage organizations, and the military planning and implementation of cultural protection operations all failed, and continue to fail, to prevent massive and irreversible loss.
The 2003 Iraq war exposed serious shortcomings in the international legal framework built over the last century to prevent the pillaging, looting and destruction of cultural property in times of war. International law encompasses several legal instruments intended to ensure protection of cultural heritage during armed conflict and occupation. However, these international conventions need to be evaluated in light of changes in methods of warfare and occupation; changes in cultural resource management techniques that impact historic monuments and archaeological site preservation; and our current understanding of the interaction between warfare and the international art market.