Restrict Imports of Antiquities from Syria to Cut Down on Looting

09 Oct 2014 5:02 PM | Anonymous

Restrict Imports of Antiquities from Syria to Cut Down on Looting

Updated October 9, 2014, 11:55 AM

Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted on stopping the Islamic State's destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage, describing how “shocking and historically shameful it would be if we did nothing while the forces of chaos rob the very cradle of our civilization.” Yet, the American entity currently taking the toughest stance on looted Syrian antiquities is not the government – it’s eBay.     

In 1947 and again in 1949, Syria declared national ownership over all the antiquities found within its borders and prohibited their export without a government-issued permit. This makes antiquities taken from Syria without a permit at any time since then stolen property. If you try to sell stolen property on eBay, the site will remove the listing and suspend your account. But if you declare the same antiquities to U.S. Customs, you don’t need to worry. American law does not prohibit the import of antiquities, even if looted and smuggled according to the laws of their countries of origin, unless the U.S. has an agreement with the source country – and there is currently no agreement with Syria.

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