ISIS Looted Antiquities Funding Terrorism: The Global Community’s Slow Response and What More can be Done

Amy Albanese
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Managing Online Content Editor

For over a year, there have been reports in the international press of Syrian and Iraqi antiquities being sold by ISIS as a source of revenue.[1] The reports detail how ISIS is profiting through the sale of Syria’s antiquities on the international art market, some even going so far as to call it a major source of funding.[2] The most recent set of complete trade statistics shows that, in fact, the importation of Syrian antiquities into the United States has remained similar to the pre-2012 sanctions.[3] This is a stark contrast from all other Syrian goods, which have sharply declined from $429.3 million worth of declared goods, to just $12.4 million in declared goods.[4] Yet, in 2014, the importation of “Antiquities over 100 years old,” “Worked Monumental Stone and Mosaic Cubes” and “Collector’s Pieces of Archaeological, Historical or Numismatic Objects” represented $6,633,903, or 54%, of all U.S. imports from Syria.[5] Continue reading

The ICC Accepts First Cultural Heritage Destruction Case

Amy Albanese, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

For the first time in the history of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, an individual will be tried as a war criminal for the destruction of cultural property. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, a native of Mali from the Ansar Taureg tribe, came before Judge Cuno Tarfusser on September 30, 2015, charged with the destruction of the UNESCO site of Timbuktu, Mali.[1] Judge Tarfusser set the provisional date for the confirmation of the charges for January 18, 2016.[2] Continue reading

Getting Away with Murder: The United Nations’ Role in Fostering Accountability and Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka

Yekaterina Reyzis, Vol. 37 Associate Editor


The United Nations’ (“UN”) intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war spawned an international inquiry into the efficacy and legitimacy of UN forces and raised broader concerns about UN involvement in internal state conflicts generally. The aftermath of the conflict illustrates that during more than a quarter century of violence between the Sri Lankan government and secessionist militants, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (“Tamil Tigers”), the UN could have been more proactive, efficient, and responsible in its mission to monitor and report the violence on the ground,[1] which slayed at least 100,000 people.[2] Namely, in the lead up to the end of the war, the UN failed to address multiple red flags presented by the Sri Lankan government,[3] which consequently wiped out an estimated 40,000 civilians in the last five months of the conflict alone.[4]  Last week, however, the UN’s call for an international war crimes court[5] appeared to be its first constructive step in ensuring that the post-war Sri Lankan government takes the appropriate steps to achieve accountability and prolonged reconciliation within its borders. Continue reading