The report is the product of a convening held in Washington D.C. with the Smithsonian Institution in April 2015 (full event recap, photos, and video).
On April 10, 2003, as the world watched a statue of Saddam Hussein come crashing down in the heart of Baghdad, looters attacked the Iraq National Museum. Despite the presence of an American tank unit, the pillaging went unchecked, and more than 15,000 artifacts – some of the oldest evidence of human culture – disappeared into the shadowy worldwide market in illicit antiquities. Since then the losses of antiquities in Iraq have increased, and include half a million artifacts that had previously been unexcavated.
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 presentation will outline the main diplomatic and legislative measures that are likely to be required in order to ratify or accede to all or some of 1954 Hague Convention measures on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
The 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was written in response to the large-scale intentional destruction and damage to cultural property perpetrated by Nazi Germany during World War II. Following the Balkan Wars, the Convention was updated in its Second Protocol of 1999. Despite this updating, the 2003 war and subsequent occupation of Iraq have demonstrated additional shortcomings of the Convention and its Protocols.