Underground debates: the fundamental differences of opinion that thwart UNESCO's progress in Fighting the Illicit Trade in Cultural Property

Resource theme: 
Legislation - International
Resource type: 
Bibliography - Articles
Emory International Law Review
Pages / Length: 
79 p.
Language of publication: 

On a balmy morning in April 2003 looters descend on Iraq's National Museum in Baghdad. The four U.S. military tanks that had been guarding the building days before are gone now-a few guards and museum employees remain to defend a billion dollar collection of ancient art at the heart of a city in chaos. Sensing their weakness, thieves gather-men, women, children, and the elderly from nearby slums. Soon they unite, some armed, and demand  entrance to the museum.  The guards and the curators are forced to surrender and watch helplessly as the looters steal eighty percent of the museum's treasures'-life-size reliefs dating from the ninth century B.C., exquisitely carved ivory furniture from ancient palaces, tablets displaying the world's earliest examples of mathematics, detailed tile work from medieval mosques, priceless Korans, jewelry, textiles, and coins-170,000 items in all. Two days later, the thieves are gone, and museum employees are left to sift through the bits of stone and glass that cover the floor, searching for anything left behind!