In an attempt to stem the damage to Iraq’s cultural heritage in the wake of recent jihadist violence, the Paris-based International Council of Museums (ICOM) has released an emergency ‘Red List’ to help protect antiquities being looted and illegally exported. 

The ICOM brings together over 35,000 members including museum professionals in 137 countries and cooperates with UNESCO, the World Customs Organization and Interpol to fight against the illicit trafficking of antiquities.

It describes its Red List as a tool to help ‘classify the endangered categories of archaeological objects or works of art in the most vulnerable areas of the world, in order to prevent them being sold or illegally exported’.

The list includes objects that are popular on the black market such as sculptures, stone tablets, vases and coins, and tells customs and police officers how to spot stolen ancient treasures.

Since 2000 the organisation has published red lists for over 25 nations. The Emergency Red List for Syria was published in September 2013.

At a press conference presenting the new list the head of the Louvre Jean-Luc Martinez in Paris said: “In recent months we have witnessed massacres of minorities in Syria and Iraq but also the destruction of priceless works of cultural heritage. These are two parts of the same strategy that has been described as ‘cultural cleansing’ which seeks to erase entire segments of human history.”

The list can be viewed here.