Rescuing Cultural Heritage from War and Terrorism: A View from Switzerland

Alessandro Chechi


Several reports reveal that trafficking in antiquities has become one of the sources of funding of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. Switzerland, which is one of the principal markets for articles of archaeological interest, has adopted two pieces of legislation that may play an important role in countering the illicit trade of antiquities smuggled from Iraq and Syria. These are the Federal Law on the Protection of Cultural Objects in the Event of Armed Conflict, Catastrophe and Emergency Situations and the Order Establishing Measures against Syria. The objective of this article is twofold: first, to examine the most relevant aspects of these measures and their implications for art trade professionals and collectors; and second, to demonstrate that Switzerland is now keen to support foreign States’ efforts to protect their cultural patrimony when threatened by war, terrorism, pillage and natural or human-induced disasters.

Słowa kluczowe

illicit trade, cultural heritage, terrorism, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Switzerland, refuge (safe haven)

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