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Think Tank Considers the Legal Obligations of Archaeologists to Report Looting

September 3, 2020

New Antiquities Coalition Commentary Re-Examines a Critical Topic from a New Perspective

In March, the Antiquities Coalition published a policy brief by criminologist Dr. Blythe Balestrieri that examined the ethical obligations of archaeologists to report looting. Today, we are releasing a commentary that considers this same complex topic, but from a legal perspective. 

The policy paper presented by Dr. Balestrieri discussed a critical dilemma faced by field archaeologists—a dilemma that requires careful consideration by those from all disciplines dedicated to protecting cultural heritage. Justice Luigi Marini takes on this examination from a legal approach in his commentary “Do Archaeologists Have an Ethical Obligation to Report Looting? A Legal Approach.”

Marini argues that a collaborative approach through the establishment of a network with authorities, the academy and the community at the national and local levels is needed to adequately support archaeologists facing this problem. He also calls on legal practitioners to consider the issue of looting with an open mind: “…legal practitioners have the professional duty to refrain from approaching cases in a dogmatic way and provide interpretation and response that embrace the complexity of life as it is.”

Justice Luigi Marini responds to Dr. Balestrieri’s brief while presenting his own ideas on the obligations of archaeologists to report looting from his perspective as a legal expert. He offers several recommendations, centered around interdisciplinary work and substantive exchange of information and experience.

As we at the Antiquities Coalition continue our exploration of this topic, tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

For a summary and link to the commentary:

For a summary and link to Dr. Balestrieri’s brief:

To view our webinar on the subject featuring Justice Marini:



About the Antiquities Coalition 

The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the international campaign against cultural racketeering, the illicit trade in art and antiquities. This plunder-for-profit funds crime, conflict, and violent extremist organizations around the world. By championing better law and policy, fostering diplomatic cooperation, and advancing proven solutions with public and private partners worldwide, the Antiquities Coalition empowers communities and countries in crisis to safeguard cultural heritage for future generations. 

Launched in 2016, the Antiquities Coalition Think Tank joins forces with international experts, including leaders in the fields of preservation, business, law, security, and technology, to bring high-quality, results-oriented research to the world’s decision-makers, especially those in the government and private sectors. Policy briefs strive to strengthen policy makers’ understanding of the challenges facing collective human heritage, and to help them develop better solutions to protect it.