Forum on Terrorist Financing to Address Illicit Sales of Antiquities
In U.S. and Internationally

Thursday, September 24, 2015
8:30 – 11:30 AM
Asia Society, 725 Park Ave, New York, NY

The Antiquities Coalition, the Middle East Institute, Asia Society, and UNESCO will cohost a high level forum in New York City on September 24 to seek solutions in the fight against antiquities looting and terrorist financing.

This forum, Culture Under Threat: The Security, Economic and Cultural Impact of Antiquities Trafficking and Terrorist Financing, will bring together leading government officials and thinkers to discuss concrete policy options in the fight to save our shared history.

The forum will build upon the accomplishments of the June 2015 Cairo Conference, which brought together high level officials from ten Middle Eastern countries. Together, they signed the Cairo Declaration, a regional strategy to fight the looting and destruction of artifacts by ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“To win this fight requires political will at the highest levels of government,” said Deborah Lehr, founder and chairman of the Antiquities Coalition. “Our goal is to bring together this diverse group of leading thinkers to seek solutions to the global problem of cultural racketeering that threatens our common past.”

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who has condemned cultural destruction and racketeering as a “war crime,” will deliver the keynote. Other participants include Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan Nasser Judeh, Cambodian Secretary of State Chuch Phoeurn, and Ahmed Abdulkariem, Chairman of the Libya Department of Antiquities. The involvement of top leaders from government, law enforcement, the museum world, auction houses, the corporate community, and the not-for-profit sector is an indication of the international momentum building in this fight.

“Antiquities trafficking is a threat to international security as well as the heritage of the people of the region,” said Wendy Chamberlin, president of The Middle East Institute.  “This should be a high priority for policymakers working to counter violent extremism and alleviate the humanitarian crises engulfing the Middle East.”

For further information about this event, contact

Sarah Courtney, Ward Circle Strategies                                    Scott Zuke, The Middle East Institute                                                                                             
(202) 367-9104                                                                                                      (202) 785-1141 ext. 236