Cultural Property Issues


Issues surrounding the protection of mankind’s cultural property have become more and more prominent in recent years. Warfare, economic development and religious and cultural intolerance are threatening our shared inheritance.

As you will know, IADAA has been highly active in campaigning to protect the legitimate antiquities trade while investigating the best means of putting an end to the illegal activities of looters, smugglers and forgers. This work involves a great deal of research, fact checking, formulating policy and opening dialogues with lawmakers, law enforcement and other bodies like NGOs.
IADAA’s chief messages are:

  • The trade is as horrified by the destruction and iconoclasm as anyone else and we share a common cause in wishing to defeat it.
  • The trade has more incentive than anyone else to stop the crooks because of the damage they risk causing the reputation of the legitimate trade.
  • The focus should now be on Article 5 of the UNESCO Convention, which has not been adopted fully and which obliges signatory countries to protect their archaeological sites properly.
  • The authorities need to base their decisions on independently verifiable evidence, not on hearsay or unsubstantiated claims in media reports.
  • We will not find a workable solution unless all parties to the debate work together, including, the trade.


The latest World Customs Organisation Illicit Trade Report over 2017 was published in December 2019
Please read our analysis dated January 2020.


“Fact, fiction and the role of the trade in protecting cultural heritage”
Council of Europe Nicosia Conference “Act for Heritage”, CINOA’s background paper:  24-26/10/2019

A new study for the European Commission on Illicit trade in cultural goods in Europe has been published.
Read here IADAA analysis of Ecorys report for EU 2019

At last ILLICID final report published in Germany.
Read here IADAA’s analysis and summary. 1-7-2019

The debate “Fake News and the Antiquities Trade” by Ivan Macquisten.
From the Cahn’s Quarterly 2019.

BRAFA Talk by V.J. Geerling 30-01-2019
An unnecessary and flawed EU regulation on the import of cultural goods that will harm the art market.
New regulatory challenges for dealers and collectors.

The latest World Customs Organisation Illicit Trade Report over 2017 was published in December 2018
Please read our analysis dated January 2019.


EU Workshop on Protecting Iraqi Cultural Heritage 30-5-2018
“The view of the organized legitimate trade on ways to prevent trafficking and destruction of Iraqi cultural heritag Presentation by the chairman of IADAA Vincent Geerling.

Helping state injustice (Translated)
Die Wetwoche: November 21,: This article examines how the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (BAK) has seized Egyptian artefacts imported legally from Britain, while ignoring property rights in the process.
Mörgli, Gehilfen eines Unrechtstaats_2018_11_22_

“Preserving the Past”
by Micheal Lewis in Cahn’s Quarterly 1.2018


Open letter to Director General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina Bukova dated 11.05.2017 by IADAA chairman Vincent Geerling.
UNESCO answer by Mr Francesco Bandarin 31.8.2017.
IADAA reply to UNESCO 6.10.2017

IADAA chairman Vincent Geerling addressed UNESCO in Paris for the second time in just over a year. Here is his speech as well as a selection of reports based on recent investigations and research by IADAA and others, including the Dutch Police War Crimes Unit, that give a clearer picture about the current situation with regards to looted cultural property and ISIS, as well as what is happening in Europe. Unesco speech in Paris by Vincent Geerling  CINOA UNESCO speech with links 15-05-2017

Illicit trade and financing of terrorism – Centre d’Analyse du Terrorisme

Sir John Boardman ‘Academic Censorship’, CQ 4_2017

IADAA investigates operation Pandora results (with pictures) 28-03-2017

IADAA investigates operation Pandora Executive summary (with pictures) 28-03-2017

Caliphate in Decline: An Estimate of Islamic State’s Financial Fortunes – The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, 2017

Report That Antiquities Sales Is Major ISIS Funding Source Disputed By Authorities – Homeland Security Today 07-01-201

SPECIAL ANALYSIS: Antiquities Sales Supporting ISIS Fails The Test Of Robustness – Homeland Security Today 27-02-2017

Cultural Property, War Crimes and Islamic State.
Destruction, plunder and trafficking of cultural property and heritage by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – a war crimes perspective.
A report commissioned by the Dutch National Police, Central Investigation Unit, War Crimes Unit

Cahn’s Quarterly 4 2017 Editorial-1