The Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict adopted in The Hague in 1954 is the first international treaty for the protection of cultural heritage in war zones.
The convention was drafted to limit violence against artistic sites and to attempt to stop the centuries-old practice whereby the victors plundered archaeological and artistic works from succumbing countries. The sack of Palmira took place under the helpless gaze of the international community. At first used by the loyalist army as a base of operations, this thousand-year-old city was then taken over by Islamic State (IS) militias. Spectacular demolitions of monuments distracted from the simultaneous sacking and sale of its archaeological treasures, which are now bolstering the most exclusive black markets in London, New York and Munich. Western cash in exchange for a people’s heritage.