The Director-General of UNESCO calls for all measures to be taken to ensure the protection and surveillance of Iraqi cultural heritage.
The Director-General of UNESCO calls for all measures to be taken to ensure the protection and surveillance of Iraqi cultural heritage and effectively fight against illicit trafficking
Following the acts of looting committed yesterday in the National Archaeological Museum of Baghdad, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has contacted the American and British authorities and asked them to take immediate measures of protection and surveillance of Iraqi archaeological sites and cultural institutions. In a letter of 11 April 2003 addressed to the American authorities, the Director-General emphasized the urgent need to preserve collections and a heritage considered to be one of the richest in the world. He particularly insisted on the necessity of assuring military protection for the Archaeological Museum of Baghdad and the Mosul Museum. The same request was formulated to the British authorities concerning in particular the Basra region.
In order to prevent the illicit export of Iraqi cultural goods, the Director-General also undertook contacts with the authorities of the countries bordering Iraq and international police and customs officials to ensure respect of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. He again requested INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, the International Confederation of Art and Antiquities Dealer Associations (CINOA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the principal actors of the art market to join forces with UNESCO in a "comprehensive mobilization so that stolen objects should not find their way to acquirers".
[Source: UNESCO, 13 April 2003]
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