ICCROM-ATHAR at the ICC’s meeting on Policy on the Protection of Cultural Property

Following an invitation from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mrs Fatou Bensouda, Dr Zaki Aslan, represented ICCROM in a first round of external expert consultations regarding the preparation of the ICC’s new Policy on the Protection of Cultural Property, which took place on 10 July 2017, at the seat of the Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.

In September 2016, the Office of Prosecutor secured an important conviction in the case of The Prosecutor v Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, where Mr Al Mahdi was found guilty as a co-perpetrator of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion in Timbuktu in June and July 2012, and was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. This was the first case concerning damage to cultural artefacts to be heard at the ICC, where an individual has been convicted of such crimes. This case demonstrated the importance of the role that international criminal justice can play in the protection of cultural property and heritage.

External experts representing various international organisations were invited to be consulted on the ICC’s efforts that focus on this topic, with the aim of enhancing the effective investigation and prosecution of related crimes and contribute to the prevention of such crimes in the future. Participants provided input on these issues, which will be carefully reviewed and taken into account in the policy drafting process by the ICC. The extensive discussions with experts on the issues relevant to the Policy also considered innovative ways of working with partners to address and deter these serious crimes. The ICC aims to finalise and promulgate the Policy by the summer of 2018.