The ICC's role in combatting the destruction of cultural heritage
Mark S. Ellis
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Case Western Reserve journal of international law, Vol. 49, issue 1, 2017, p. 23-62
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi appeared before the International Criminal Court on September 30, 2015, charged with the war crime of destroying Mali's cultural heritage. Because Al Mahdi admitted guilt, the trial lasted only a few days. A full trial would have had the benefint of focusing attention on the destruction of cultural heritage as a prosecutable crime against humanity. Despite the fact that it was dispensed with so quickly, the case remains important to the goal of deterring such crimes in the future. This article considers the likelihood of that aspiration by looking at the charges brought against Al Mahdi. It also reviews the Al Mahdi case in the context of international law and past practices, with particular emphasis on current treaties and jurisprudence from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.