In the wake of war and natural disasters, cultural sites and museums become less secure and, thus, more vulnerable to pillaging. We witnessed rampant looting in both Afghanistan and Iraq, for example. Cultural heritage is dispersed, through an underground network, over state borders and on the internet.
In the aftermath of the earthquake's devastation in Haiti, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has issued a statement calling for a ban in the trade and transfer of Haitian artifacts. This request was submitted to the UN Security Council by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, on Wednesday. UNESCO has asked Interpol and the World Customs Organization to monitor this illicit trade. Two sites at risk of pillaging by treasure hunters are the Presidential Palace and Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, both of which collapsed during the earthquake.
In her statement, Bokova maintains that Haiti's cultural heritage "is an invaluable source of identity and pride for the people on the island and will be essential to the success of their natural reconstruction. "Loot!" will track the international community's reaction to Bokova's call, along with any developments regarding the trade of Haitian artifacts. [UNESCO Statement]