Meeting on Iraq Cultural Heritage, UNESCO

Paris, April 17, 2003

The founder members of the International Committee of the Blue Shield: the International Council on Archives (ICA); the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS); the International Council of Museums; and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), were all represented at the meeting of experts called by UNESCO on April 17, 2003 to discuss the damage to Iraqi cultural heritage caused by the war.

The official communication issued at the end of the meeting follows:

The meeting deplores and is deeply shocked by the extensive damage to, and looting of, the cultural heritage of Iraq caused by the recent conflict. It calls on the coalition forces to observe the principles of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols.

The meeting agreed on the following recommendations to those responsible for civil order in Iraq:

That all museums, libraries, archives, monuments and sites in Iraq be guarded and secured immediately by the forces in place.

2. That an immediate prohibition be placed on the export of all antiques, antiquities, works of art, books and archives from Iraq.
3. That an immediate ban be placed on the international trade in objects of Iraqi cultural heritage.
4. That a call be made for the voluntary and immediate return of cultural objects stolen or illicitly exported from Iraq.
5. That there be an immediate fact-finding mission under UNESCO coordination to assess the extent of damage and loss to cultural property in Iraq.
6. That there be the facilitation of international efforts in assisting cultural institutions in Iraq.



The UNESCO Director General's speech during the opening meeting at The International Committee of the Blues Shield will next meet on Monday, May 5, 2003 in Paris. It will consider what it can do to help the process of restoring and repairing the lost and damaged cultural heritage of Iraq.

Ross Shimmon
International Committee of the Blue Shield
April 22, 2003