In the context of ongoing destruction and looting of cultural heritage in the Middle East, an event titled “Conflict Antiquities: Forging a Public/Private Response to Save the Endangered Patrimony of Iraq and Syria” was held by the U.S. Department of State and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 29, 2015 amid the United Nations General Assembly week.

The pioneering symposium brought together senior State Department officials, national and international law enforcement, museums, auction houses, dealers, and collectors to review international cooperation against the looting and trafficking of antiquities from the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Over the course of two panel discussions, participants:

  • highlighted the connection between ISIL’s looting and trafficking of antiquities and the financing of its terrorist operations;
  • emphasized the importance of effective international law enforcement action to curb the activities of traffickers, and unscrupulous dealers and collectors;
  • identified practical ways to share information and documentation on the looting and destruction of Iraqi and Syrian archeological and historical sites;
  • and explored ways to forge public-private education and advocacy campaigns about best practices for museums, collectors, and auction houses around the world.
  • U.S. government representatives provided new evidence that ISIL is looting for profit and discussed a new initiative to combat the trade in conflict antiquities.

Video: Panel 1

Speakers on the first panel on “Looting and Destruction of Iraqi and Syrian Cultural Heritage"

Video: Panel 2

Speakers on the second panel on “The Role of Private Institutions and Collectors in Fostering Best Practices and Public Education"