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ICOM Press Release

Press Release
11 June 2003

Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) announces the official publication of its Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk describing types of object especially at risk or likely to have been stolen from Iraq.

This Red List has been compiled in an extremely short space of time, in the hope that it will help curb illicit trade in objects looted from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad or from museums and archaeological sites elsewhere in the country. It was drawn up by a group of international experts during a meeting organised by ICOM at the headquarters of Interpol in Lyons (France) on 7 May 2003.

The Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk is designed to help customs officials, police officers and art dealers identify objects as coming from Iraq.

The Red List describes the types of object most sought-after on the illegal antiquities market, so that they can be identified and impounded. It makes no claim to be exhaustive. Because of the extremely varied nature of Iraqi cultural heritage, any antiquities from Iraq should be viewed with suspicion.

ICOM's aim in compiling this Red List was to launch a prompt practical initiative which would have an immediate impact, safeguarding Iraqi cultural heritage and preventing stolen Iraqi art works from entering the international art market. The Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk is based on ICOM's Red List concept, and follows on from previous work aimed at protecting African heritage, and ongoing work on the Latin America Red List scheduled for publication in September 2003.

ICOM expresses its gratitude to the US Department of State (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs), whose prompt offer of financial support made this project possible.

The English version of the Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk can be consulted on the ICOM Web site (French and Arab versions to follow very shortly). It will also be distributed as a leaflet to customs officials and police officers all over the world via Interpol and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

In connection with this initiative, it should be noted that the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483, which was passed on 22 May 2003, bans all international trade in Iraqi cultural property exported illegally after 6 August 1990.

ICOM is an international organisation of museums and museum professionals which is committed to the conservation, continuation and communication to society of the world's natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible.

With 18,000 members in 143 countries, ICOM provides an international network of museum professionals across the spectrum of disciplines and specialisations.

ICOM was founded in 1946. It is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation which has formal links with UNESCO and consultative status with the United Nations' Economic and Social Council.

The fight against illicit traffic of cultural goods is one of ICOM's core commitments. The Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk has been compiled to prevent cultural objects being sold illegally on the art market, and thus to ensure the protection of Iraqi heritage. It is based on ICOM's Red List concept, and follows on from previous work on Africa and Latin-America.

Contact : Valérie Jullien
Maison de l'UNESCO-
1, rue Miollis
75732 Paris cedex 15 - France
Tel. : +33 (0) - Fax : +33 (0)



Updated: 20 June 2005