Sanction measures

Sanction measures are instruments in the foreign policy and security and safety policy of the United Nations and the European Union. The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate and Dutch Customs have a supervising role. The sanction measures are coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Cultural property from Iraq and Syria

Two sanction measures came into being regarding threatened cultural heritage in countries involved in a conflict situation, namely for Iraq and for Syria.


Since the outbreak of the Gulf Wars, Iraq has lost a great deal of its protected cultural property. Important objects have been stolen from Iraqi museums, archives and libraries. Archaeological sites have been and are being plundered. International organisations have taken measures to put a stop to these practices. It is prohibited:

  1. to bring any Iraqi cultural objects into EU territory or, if they are already in the EU, take them out of EU territory.
  2. to deal in Iraqi cultural property that you know or should reasonably suspect has been illegally removed from Iraq.

The prohibitions do not apply to cultural property that you can prove was exported from Iraq before 6 August 1990, or to property that is being returned to Iraqi institutions in accordance with the objective of safe return as set out in UNSC Resolution 1483 (2003).

Specific information on cultural property from Iraq can be found at ' Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk’.

Further information recent developments can be found at the UNESCO web page for Emergency actions in Iraq,  Council Regulation (EC) No 1210/2003(article 3),  Council Regulation (EU) No 85/2013 and  UNSC Resolution 1483


On 13 December 2013 the Council of the EU decided to adopt restrictive measures in light of the situation in Syria. Council Regulation (EU) No 1332/2013 (art. 11 quater) makes it possible to safeguard objects of archaeological, historical, cultural, scientific or religious importance that have been removed from Syria without the consent of their legitimate owner or removed in breach of Syrian law or international law, in particular if the goods form an integral part of either the public collections listed in the inventories of the collections of Syrian museums, archives or libraries, or the inventories of Syrian religious institutions.

The prohibition shall not apply if it is demonstrated that the goods were exported from Syria prior to 15 March 2011 or that the goods are being safely returned to their legitimate owners in Syria.

Further information you may find on the  ICOM Red List and  UNESCO’s web page on safeguarding Syrian cultural heritage.