Home »Top Stories » Nicosia convention targets trade in ‘blood antiquities’
Six countries on Friday signed a Council of Europe convention which criminalises the illegal trade in "blood antiquities" that can be used to finance terrorism, officials said. The initiative, which was launched at a CoE ministerial meeting in Nicosia, comes after jihadists in war-torn Syria and Iraq have looted and sold ancient artefacts to fund their rule.

"Today, the international community takes a crucial leap forward in the protection of our cultural heritage, especially in the efforts to combat the trade in blood antiquities by trans-national organised crime and terrorist networks," said Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

He said it was the only international treaty that deals specifically with the criminalisation of the illicit trafficking of cultural property. The Nicosia Convention outlaws unlawful excavation, the importation and exportation of stolen antiquities, and their illegal acquisition. It comes as signatories are "concerned that terrorist groups are involved in the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and use the illicit trade of cultural property as a source of financing", its text reads.

Since taking over large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, the Islamic State jihadist group has destroyed and looted archaeological sites in both countries to sell valued artefacts on the black market. These include the UNESCO world heritage site of Palmyra in Syria and the Assyrian site of Nimrud in Iraq. Kasoulides said IS and other extremist organisations had raised an estimated $150 million from the trafficking of stolen heritage.



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