European Union External Action

The Casket of our History – EUAM Iraq fights illegal trade in cultural goods

27/11/2019 - 18:36
News stories

Third workshop in Baghdad united international and Iraqi key actors to stem money-making by criminals and terrorists. Physical protection of museums in the limelight.

The Casket of our History – EUAM Iraq fights illegal trade in cultural goods

Organised crime and terrorist groups create income from the illegal trafficking of cultural goods in Iraq. This is one of the reasons why the civilian EU Advisory Mission in Iraq supports the Iraqi government in protecting the cultural heritage of Mesopotamia.

The Mission recently conducted in Baghdad its third international workshop on the protection of cultural heritage: "The Casket of our History". The workshop aimed at strengthening collective efforts to preserve cultural heritage by illustrating the situation of Iraq’s museums and how to ensure their physical protection.

INTERPOL and Carabinieri close ranks with Iraqi counterparts

The workshop united European experts from INTERPOL, the Italian Carabinieri's Cultural Heritage Protection unit and the International Council of Museums with Iraqi experts. The participants praised the workshop for its content and highlighted the importance of sharing expertise and networking with international colleagues from different Iraqi institutions and abroad.

Background: ISIS controlled at the worst times 20% of Iraq's archaeological sites. Invaluable cultural goods such as artefacts from the Assyrian era or ancient churches were deliberately destroyed. EUAM Iraq is the only CSDP Mission so far that employs a specialist in cultural heritage protection to stem revenue creation by organized crime and terrorist groups. Protecting cultural values, enhancing the Iraqi inheritance and preventing the root causes of extremism are among the key factors in the stabilisation efforts in Iraq. Established in 2017, the EUAM advises Iraqi authorities on the civilian aspects of its security sector reform. EUAM Iraq and the other nine civilian CSDP Missions play a very important catalyst role also by connecting international and national actors to jointly solve challenges that might have a destabilizing and security deteriorating effect on host countries. The close cooperation with international expert bodies from the UN family or INTERPOL is one of the most concrete manifestations of the EU's support for effective multilateralism.