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ICOM Press Releases

Press Release
2 February 2007

Red List of Afghanistan Antiquities at Risk

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) announces the publication of its fourth Red List of endangered cultural property, the Red List of Afghanistan Antiquities at Risk (2006).

Afghanistan heritage has suffered terribly over the past decades from war, destruction and looting that have devastated the country and its population. Now, in spite of the engagement of NATO in Afghanistan since 2001 and all the perspectives for peace and renewal this could mean for the Afghan people, we have seen the situation in this country worsen as the Taliban's resistance in some provinces takes its toll.
People do not need to be reminded of the importance of a common history and culture in the construction of a sound national identity. But how to achieve cohesion when cultural heritage, unique witness of a region's past, is threatened with disappearance?

The Red List presents 18 categories of Afghanistan cultural artefacts which are particularly at risk from looting and international illicit art trade. They are divided into two great eras of Afghanistan history, the turning point being the advent of Islam in the region. The Red List is an appeal to museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors to ensure all the guarantees absolutely necessary and preliminary to every purchase of cultural antiquities coming from Afghanistan. It has also been designed as a tool for police and customs officers to help them identify these objects. Nonetheless, the Red List can not claim to be exhaustive, and everyone in the presence of an artefact from Afghanistan is required to check its authenticity very carefully and ensure that it is accompanied by the necessary provenance and ownership papers which guarantee that it has been neither stolen nor looted.

Through its commitment to the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property, ICOM conducts a campaign to raise broader public awareness.


Law on the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Heritage, Issue No. 828, Sawar 31st 1383, May 20th 2004  
-  Ratification of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO, 1972)
-  Acceptance of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (UNESCO, 1970)

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State has provided ICOM with financial support for the realization of this project.  

Contact :
Jennifer Thevenot ( / Tel : + 33 (0) 1 47 34 91 60

Updated: 22 February 2007