curbing the spoils of war

This is just a note with a couple of points to highlight. The UNESCO Courier has published my article on “curbing the spoils of war“, also published as “pillage d’antiquités: arrêter l’hémorragie”, “restringir os espólios da Guerra“, “tráfico de antigüedades: acabemos con la hemorragia”, “Приоритет: oстановить грабеж культурных ценностей“, “حتّى يتوقّف النزيف: نهب الآثار” and “制止在战争中劫掠文物“.

Facts and figures on illicit trade are notoriously difficult to document, even in relation to “ordinary” organized crime in relatively stable environments. Such difficulties are multiplied in a conflict with myriad, shifting internal factions and changing external facilitators. They are multiplied even further in cases where the war and the war economy are so interdependent. There are literally dozens of specific, yet baseless, claims in relation to Syria and Iraq alone….

Confronted with such evidence [of conflict antiquities trafficking, around the world, over more than a century], it becomes impossible to maintain the reassuring myths that conflict financing through antiquities trafficking is not happening at all, that it is not making a difference to the development of those conflicts or that it can be suppressed with exceptional measures against particular organizations. The only way to constrict this kind of trafficking is through the policing and regulation of the conflict antiquities market.


Hardy, S A. 2017: “Curbing the spoils of war”. UNESCO Courier, Number 3. [html]

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