The Senate Human Rights Caucus
Co-Chairs Senator Mark Kirk and Senator Chris Coons
invites you to join us for a special briefing
Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Conflict: Promoting Accountability and the Rule of Law
Thursday, September 22 | 10am – 11am
Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216
The destruction of cultural heritage in conflict is an increasingly pressing concern for governments and civil society around the world. In Iraq and Syria, ISIS has targeted and destroyed, in visible and dramatic fashion, structures associated with minority sects of Islam, Christianity, and ancient and traditional cultures. In Mali, a rebel group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb attacked and destroyed religious sites in the famed city of Timbuktu – and one of the perpetrators of these crimes has pled guilty to the war crime of cultural heritage destruction at the International Criminal Court.
Cultural heritage is a crucial part of the history of a people, and enriches all of humanity. When it is destroyed, it is lost forever. Intentional destruction of cultural heritage is an attempt to undermine the identity and dignity of humanity. How can the international community ensure accountability for these crimes and promote the rule of law to protect cultural heritage in conflict? How can international institutions and governments help preserve humanity’s cultural heritage?
Please join us for discussion to examine these questions, as well as the role that the U.S. government can play in these efforts.
Raymond Brown and his wife, Wanda Akin, represent victims in the Darfur situation at the International Criminal Court and are the co-founders of the International Justice Project. Mr. Brown has served as co-Lead Defense Counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and is Chair of the White Collar Defense and Corporate & International Human Rights Compliance Groups at Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP.
Patty Gerstenblith is a professor of law at DePaul University and director of its Center for Art, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law. She is founding president of the Lawyers Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, a director of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, senior advisor to the ABA’s Art and Cultural Heritage Law Committee, and chair of the President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee.
Helen Malko is a postdoctoral fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University. Her research focuses on the deliberate destruction of monuments and historical landscapes in Iraq and Syria. She holds a PhD in archaeology from Stony Brook University, a Master’s degree in archaeology of the ancient Near East from Baghdad University, and a diploma in historic preservation from Rutgers University.
Tess Davis is the Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition. She has conducted extensive field research and legal research on the illicit trade in Cambodian antiquities, and was knighted by the Royal Government of Cambodia for her work to recover the country’s plundered treasures. She holds a law degree from University of Georgia School of Law and an archaeology degree from Boston University.
Anne-Marie Carstens is a researcher at Georgetown University Law Center. She holds a DPhil in Law from Oxford University and a JD from Georgetown. She has served as a consultant on cultural property issues to the State Department and chairs the Cultural Heritage & the Arts Interest Group of the American Society of International Law. Her forthcoming book is entitled Safeguarding Cultural Property During Armed Conflict.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Photography Credit: Orange Smile