by Marina Lostal
Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Syria, experts had long suspected that the country’s archaeological sites and museums were being looted. The reports based on satellite images of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (available here and here) confirmed the fears that the scale of plunder was unprecedented since the Second World War. At the same time, it was discovered that the illicit trade with antiquities was a major source of income of the Islamic State, the wealthiest jihadist militant group in the world despite its recent creation. Against this background, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2199 on 12 February according to which “all Member States shall take appropriate steps to prevent the trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, and religious importance illegally removed from Iraq since 6 August 1990 and from Syria since 15 March 2011” (the full text is available here)
The European Union had already barred all sorts of trade with Syrian antiquities in 2013 (text here). Under the Syrian Antiquities Law, the international trade with antiquities is absolutely prohibited and punished with 10 to 15 years of imprisonment.