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friday :: march 21, 2003
cradle of civilisation at risk: preserve world's oldest cultural heritage

As the prospect for war in Iraq gains momentum, archaeologists have become increasingly concerned about the fate of that country's archaeological sites, antiquities, and cultural property. In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) passed a Resolution Regarding War and the Destruction of Antiquities, which urges all governments to honor the terms of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

As the oldest and largest organization in North America devoted to the study and preservation of the world's cultural heritage, the Archaeological Institute of America expresses its profound concern about the potential for damage to monuments, sites, antiquities, and cultural institutions as a result of war.

Iraq, the land of Mesopotamia located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, is the home of some of the world's oldest and most significant archaeological and cultural sites.

The AIA is particularly concerned that in the aftermath of war, Iraqi cultural objects may be removed from museums and archaeological sites and placed on the international art market. The removal of such objects would denude the national and local museums of Iraq and cause irreparable losses to some of the world's most significant archaeological sites. This cultural heritage is of great value to the people of Iraq (as well as people throughout the world) and plays an important role within civil society. The preservation of this heritage is also of long-term economic benefit to the nation and to the region. The actions of all governments in preserving this heritage during a post-war reconstruction phase should be consistent with the terms and spirit of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. >from *AIA Urges Protection of Iraq's Archaeological Heritage*. march, 2003

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1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict
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