Cultural property has become a source of terrorist funding. This article highlights the renewed attention paid by the international community to the protection of cultural heritage in the wake of the fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and/or Da’esh). In so doing, the article reviews the panoply of international rules providing protection to cultural heritage — with specific attention to provisions on war crimes and crimes against humanity — and their possible application against ISIS. Moreover, the article discusses a recent case at the International Criminal Court on destruction of cultural heritage in Mali and the newly adopted United Nations measures to counter terrorist financing through trafficking in cultural property. Ultimately, the authors suggest new avenues for combating antiquities trafficking, which include a public–private initiative and labelling certain artefacts as ‘blood antiquities’, following the example of diamonds linked to armed conflicts and atrocity crimes.
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