Of all the tragedies that occur worldwide, the loss of ancient monuments, art and archaeological artefacts might seem pretty insignificant to the needless suffering of innocents. In Syria, Iraq and Mali, the world has been exposed to some appalling images of ancient ruins being intentionally destroyed in front of their eyes. But not only were unique places of heritage being reduced to dust, hugely profitable, industrial-scale excavations were taking place behind the scenes in order to sell artefacts abroad and help fuel further attacks and violence.
It was in this context that the Council of Europe negotiated and opened for signature the new Nicosia Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, also known, more dramatically, as the “Blood Antiquities Convention”. As part of the Secretariat to both the drafting committee that negotiated the Convention and its Explanatory Report as well as the oversight committee (European Committee on Crime Problems (CPDC)), this post shares some of my personal insights into how this Convention came into being. Continue reading