Joint Statement on Cultural Destruction in Iraq and Syria

June 26, 2015

The members of the Canadian Archaeological Association, the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO), and the International Council of Museums Canada (ICOM Canada) denounce the directed and intentional destruction of cultural heritage and heritage sites within Iraq and Syria. The heritage sites of Iraq and Syria represent thousands of years of human development and artistic expression. Their destruction is a devastating strike against cultural diversity and an attempt to erase the complex and intertwined history of our collective human experience.

The willful destruction, desecration, and pillaging of heritage sites and the associated resale of cultural objects is a reprehensible crime against all humanity. We call for an immediate stop to these deplorable acts. As the crisis in the Middle East continues to unfold we call on all our membership to support as their expertise allows the efforts to conserve damaged art and antiquities, to assist in the identification and return of any displaced cultural objects, and to encourage authorities to implement and pursue all international treaties, statutes, and laws that exist to protect heritage sites and to stop the international movement of heritage objects.

The extent of the damage to Iraq and Syria’s heritage will only be truly understood once the region stabilizes. In these uncertain times we stand alongside members of the United Nations, the World Archaeological Congress, the Society for American Archaeology, and the Archaeological Institute of America, and offer our support to the brave heritage professionals within Syria and Iraq The grievous destruction of cultural heritage, archaeological sites, and heritage objects, and the sale of objects looted and displaced, must be stopped and requires our immediate action.