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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
News article13 June 2018Service for Foreign Policy Instruments

The EU and Iraq Join Forces to Protect Cultural Heritage and Fight Terrorism

On 30–31 May 2018, the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU and the Iraqi government co-organised a TAIEX-PI Workshop on Protecting Iraqi Cultural Heritage and Fighting Terrorism. In line with the EU’s commitment to fight against organised crime and protect cultural heritage, participants explored ways to put an end to the illegal trafficking of Iraqi antiquities and deprive terrorists of a major source of funding.

The workshop was moderated by EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove supported by Nazar Khairallah, Vice Minister of Foreign affairs of Iraq. It was attended by over 120 participants, including representatives from law enforcement and judicial bodies and diplomats from EU Member States, Iraq and other countries such as the USA, Switzerland, Turkey, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. The discussions were joined by high level representatives and delegates from EU institutions, including the European Commission, the European External Action Service and the Council of the EU, EU agencies, such as Frontex, Europol, Eurojust and the EU Satellite Centre, the International Organisations UNESCO, ICOM, Interpol, WCO and UNIDROIT, as well as stakeholders from the arts community and online platforms.

Potential avenues of cooperation identified during the workshop include awareness raising, the improvement of information exchange, legislation and methodologies and the enhanced use of trainings and new technologies. Speakers also underscored the need for a new integrated approach, the culture-security nexus, since security, development and culture are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. In addition, dialogue with art market representatives was stressed as a priority.

Within the framework of the CSDP mission EUAM Iraq, the EU contributes to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2347 to strengthen international cooperation in protecting cultural heritage and deprive terrorists of funding through the illicit trafficking of cultural goods. The proposed Regulation on the import of cultural goods from July 2017 would moreover create an EU framework to set a new common definition for these goods, a more rigorous certification system and a new licensing system for the import of archaeological objects.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH) held this year provides a fitting opportunity to promote the protection of cultural heritage as a core objective of the EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations.


This workshop was organised in follow-up to a TAIEX-PI Workshop on National and International Criminal Justice, held in October 2017 in Brussels in partnership with Iraq. It contributes to the EU’s efforts to develop stronger ties with third countries and to encourage dialogue, post-conflict reconciliation and conflict prevention. Over the last years, the EU has strengthened its commitment to fight against organised crime, terrorism financing and money laundering, such as in the recent Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions on the fight against terrorism (June 2017).

TAIEX is the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission. It promotes EU standards and legislation by providing technical assistance and exchanges of best practice to the public administrations of partner countries. Building on the success of TAIEX implementation in the Neighbourhood and Enlargement areas, the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) and the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) also implement TAIEX actions with countries around the world, supporting the EU in the establishment of wider political dialogues.


Publication date
13 June 2018
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments