Senator David Perdue Applauds Committee Passage of Antiquities Bill

“Antiquities sales are ISIS’s second largest source of funding. This bill helps to stem the flow of money to ISIS.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation introduced by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Bob Casey (D-PA) that restricts ISIS’s ability to profit from the sale of antiquities. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act already passed the House and now heads to the full Senate for consideration. Below are Senator Perdue’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I’d like to offer a few words on the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, of which I am an original co-sponsor. I’d like to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for putting this important legislation on today’s agenda, as well as Senator Casey, the bill’s sponsor here in the Senate.

First and foremost, this bill enacts an emergency import restriction of archeological and ethnological material that has been removed since the beginning of the conflict in 2011 from Syria. A similar emergency import restriction was placed on such items from Iraq in 2003, and is urgently needed for Syria.

We have seen in the Levant that ISIS has targeted cultural property for destruction, as well as for sale on the black market. The purpose for ISIS is two-fold—not only does ISIS gain money from sales of antiquities, but they also are purging society of pre- or non-Islamic influence.

ISIS exerts a state-like dominance over the antiquities trade in the territory it controls, including a bureaucracy to control excavations and smuggling, and uses a variety of techniques to profit from these pillaged artifacts. In turn, these profits go to further ISIS’s reign of terror.

According to some estimates, antiquities sales are ISIS’s second largest source of funding. This bill helps to stem the flow of money to ISIS, by limiting their ability to sell these looted antiquities to anyone in the United States.

This legislation also includes a Sense of Congress that the President should create an interagency committee to better coordinate efforts among the agencies of the executive branch, NGOs, and institutions, such as the Smithsonian, who work to preserve and protect international cultural property.

Since World War II, the United States has led the international effort to protect and preserve cultural property during times of conflict and crisis. This bill not only chips away at ISIS’s ability to profit from its looting of history, but also ensures that our response to protect artifacts worldwide that are threatened by war or natural disasters, is more effective.”