12 Nov 2020

Culture in ruins: the illegal trade in cultural property across North and West Africa

The scale of the trade in illegal antiquities poses a major threat to the region’s cultural heritage.

Illegal trade in African archaeological and cultural objects continues to cause untold damage to sites and monuments, draining the continent of its collective history. Focusing on key case studies from North and West Africa, this report draws on original research to describe the key characteristics of illicit markets across Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia and Algeria, explore how these markets have developed and shifted over time, and examine the efficacy of the institutional response. This paper forms part of a set of publications on the illegal trade in cultural property across North and West Africa, made up of this research paper and three case studies (on Mali, Nigeria and North Africa).

About the authors

Julia Stanyard is an analyst at the Global Initiative. She holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Cambridge. Her MPhil thesis was on crime prevention strategies taken to combat the illicit antiquities trade. She has recently completed a fellowship with the British Institute for Eastern Africa, researching illicit antiquities in Africa.

Rim Dhaouadi is a research consultant for the ENACT programme. She is a lawyer and has a master’s degree in international law from Aix-en-Provence. She was legal officer and programme manager with Democracy Reporting International and with the Geneva Center for Democratic Governance of Armed Forces.

Photo © Adobestock

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