Using culture to finance terrorism : legal deficiencies and perspectives for an enhanced protection of cultural heritage

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Chauveau, Léa
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Pillages have been legitimated for millenniums under the aegis of wars and centuries under colonialism. Pillaging Cultural Heritage of the enemy by removing symbols of its Identity has been on for immemorial times. As Machiavelli stated at the beginning of the 16th century, “whoever becomes master of a City accustomed to living in freedom and does not destroy it, may reckon on being destroy by it”1. The other purpose of pillaging, as demonstrated under the Napoleonic era, was to raise funds to support the war effort. Two hundred years later, attacking enemy's identity and raising funds are both a leitmotiv for terrorist exactions against Cultural Heritage. In 1999, Mohammed Atta, a member of Al Qaeda, tried to sell looted antiquities to fund the terrorist attacks perpetrated two years later in New York2. If western countries are not the same active actors of past pillages, they witness in their auction houses numerous arrivals of cultural objects from Iraq and Syria. Among the many tragedies occurring in the region, the onslaught of the Islamic State has played an important role in the devastation of the region's Cultural Heritage. This paper examines from a legal perspective the different initiatives that have been taken to protect Cultural Property in source countries in Conflict such as Iraq. If the International community has for several years developed the legislation in relation to Cultural Property as a financing source for terrorism, the legislations in place at the domestic level seem to brake its enforcement. The final chapter will thus present alternatives to overcome this lack of enforcement by developing existing systems such as the system of Refuge for Cultural Property or the extension of the Responsibility to Protect principle to Cultural Property.
Second semester University: Lund University.
armed conflict, cultural heritage, cultural property, terrorism