U.S. Department of State Partners with International Council of Museums to Fight Illicit Traffic of West African Cultural Heritage

January 3, 2017

In response to the conflict in Mali in 2012, and in order to fight the looting of West African cultural heritage, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) have published a Red List of West African Cultural Objects at Risk, including a Mali "Emergency" section funded by ECA’s Cultural Heritage Center. The Red List highlights the types of artifacts that are in demand on the art and antiquities market, protected by legislation, and vulnerable to being looted, stolen or illegally exported. This tool will be transmitted to police and customs officials worldwide through INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization. It will also be distributed to museums, auction houses and art dealers. 

The Red List of West African Cultural Objects at Risk is one example of how the United States is implementing our cultural property agreement with the Republic of Mali, first established in 1997. The agreement establishes U.S. import restrictions on archaeological objects from Mali and supports the Government of Mali’s efforts to preserve its unique heritage. The Red List’s Mali “Emergency” section highlights some of the categories of objects subject to U.S. import restriction, such as terracotta statues, jewelry, and ceramic vessels.

The State Department’s support of the Red List reflects the United States’ commitment to cultural preservation and respect for world heritage.  In addition to the West Africa Red List, the Cultural Heritage Center has supported the publication of lists for SyriaIraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt, Cambodia, China, Central America and Mexico, Haiti, Colombia, and Peru, with more on the way.

For more information, please contact ECA-Press@state.gov. For information on ICOM, its action against illicit traffic in cultural goods and its Red Lists of cultural objects at risk, please contact icom.presse@icom.museum.