Looting and pillaging have been an aspect of warfare for millennia. Art theft, antiquities looting, and artifact trafficking is both profitable and easy, especially in countries where much of the ancient world is not yet excavated. This trade has served to fund many syndicates around the world over the last century, most recently becoming the main monetary support for terrorism.
In this note, Victoria Maatta argues that the US should help to combat the artifacts trade stemming from ISIL activities. She surveys the current caselaw and finds the standards that art and antiquities purchasers must abide by are unclear and current legal treatment of these issues ultimately does nothing to thwart illicit art trafficking.
Instead, Maatta proposes a more focused legal approach to the issue that prioritizes due diligence on the part of the purchaser and has the primary goal of ensuring the protection and proper ownership of the antiquities.