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History Conflict Terrorism

After Palmyra, What Can the World Do to Protect Cultural Treasures?

Lion in the garden of Palmyra Archeological Museum. Image: Mappo/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by The Conversation on 2 September, 2015.

There has been much public condemnation of the destruction of the Temple of Bel at Palmyra by Islamic State (IS), as well as the wider devastation being inflicted on the cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq by both IS and its opponents in Syria’s civil war.

Both Syria and Iraq are party to all relevant treaties protecting cultural heritage, but this has not stopped the rampant violations. This implies that the problem doesn’t lie with inadequate laws, but rather with compliance and enforcement.