Saturday, 22 November 2014

UN Monitoring Team Recommends Moratorium on Some Middle Eastern Antiquities

The report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team established pursuant to resolution 1526 (2004) on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, which was submitted to the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities,  recommends a world-wide moratorium on antiquities from Syria and Iraq (Antiquities are third in position in their list, pp 23-4 "this is a growing but not a new risk").
Although the looting and sale of antiquities is a known risk, it is very difficult to reliably estimate the amount of money that ISIL raises through this activity, and the Monitoring Team has not received officially confirmed information pointing to a particular sale that was clearly ISIL - related. Furthermore, there is a risk that local dealers will stockpile the artefacts until the world is no longer focused on this issue. On this basis, the Monitoring Team recommends a preventative approach.
On page 27 the funding of the Al - Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant is discussed:
The finances of ANF are much more opaque than those of ISIL and there is very little information available in open sources [...]. There are indications that ANF may be extracting or seeking to generate revenue from antiquities smuggling. Given the Syrian Arab Republic’s rich cultural heritage, and assuming that ANF requires continuing income to secure essential supplies, any move to contain such revenue would be highly valuable.
So, page 32:
Recommendation six: The Monitoring Team, noting that ANF and ISIL may generate revenue from the smuggling and sale of antiquities illegally taken from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic or Iraq, recommends that the Chair request the Security Council to mandate a world - wide moratorium on the trading of antiquities from the Syrian Arab Republic or Iraq since the passing of resolution 2170 (2014) that lack clear, certified provenance. Although such a moratorium would not eliminate the criminal market for smuggled antiquities, this ban should disrupt the market for antiquities from the Syrian Arab Republic and build on prior Security Council measures [Security Council Resolution 1483 (2003), para 7] in the case of Iraq, depressing potential ANF and ISIL revenues.
Note all that is required for the trade to continue under the ban is that objects have a collecting history - which is what they should all jolly well have anyway. Here however items documented as being out of Syria before  passing of UNSC Resolution 2170 (15 August 2014) Condemning Gross, Widespread Abuse of Human Rights by Extremist Groups in Iraq, Syria are treated as being kosher from the point of view of thee measures, whether they are in terms of other concerns is another matter. 

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