During an address at a UNESCO conference in Paris yesterday, French president François Hollande has announced plans to grant “asylum” to art and archeological treasures at risk of being destroyed by ISIS. The announcement follows the ISIS perpetrated terror attacks in Paris on Friday which claimed 129 lives.
“The right to asylum applies to people […] but asylum also applies to works, world heritage,” Hollande stated, adding that ISIS is working “at this very moment” on looting and then selling cultural artifacts on the black market. Illicit art works are “transiting through free ports which are havens for receiving stolen goods and laundering, including in Europe,” the president added.
Hollande went on to pledge the implementation of a legal framework to facilitate the safekeeping of cultural heritage under threat, which he said the French parliament would consider in the near future. The French president added the country would also adopt the UN Security Council resolutions banning the import, transit, and trade of illicit antiquities.
The decision to protect cultural heritage that is at risk comes after the Association of Art Museum Directors, which is comprised of 242 members across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, published a list of protocols in October offering threatened museums around the world temporary safekeeping for their holdings.
Islamic State militants recently blew up the Syrian World Heritage site of Palmyra. The ancient temple of Baalshamin, one of the most important ’Silk Road’ ruins, has been reduced to rubble, Syrian officials confirmed at the time. The radical islamists also decapitated the 82-year-old Syrian antiquities expert Khaled al-Assad after he bravely refused to reveal the location of valuable artifacts.