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United States and Algeria Strengthen Joint Fight Against Cultural Racketeering

August 15, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC (August 15, 2019) — The Antiquities Coalition applauds the United States and Algeria for today signing an agreement to strengthen their law enforcement cooperation against the looting and trafficking of ancient art and artifacts.

“Today, Algeria has welcomed a new era of international cooperation in protecting its cultural heritage and sharing it with the world,” said Deborah Lehr, Chairman of the Antiquities Coalition. “With leadership from the State Department, the United States has demonstrated respect for Algeria, as well as our country’s desire to work with global partners to end cultural racketeering.”

The agreement, signed today in a ceremony at the State Department by Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce and Algerian Minister of Culture Meriem Merdaci, commits both countries to combating the illicit trade. It moreover closes U.S. borders to illegally acquired or exported Algerian antiquities. The agreement will also open new opportunities for responsible cultural exchange between the two nations, such as traveling exhibitions, museum loans, and research projects.

Algeria is internationally celebrated for its rich heritage, from prehistoric rock art, to Roman ruins, Islamic forts, and Ottoman palaces. The country is home to seven World Heritage Sites recognized as having “outstanding universal value,” as well as leading museums. However, in recent years, thieves and traffickers have increasingly targeted sites and collections. Experts fear that some looted and stolen pieces may be marketed to unsuspecting collectors in the United States, the world’s largest art market.  

Today’s signing is the 19th such agreement between the United States and a partner nation on cultural heritage protection. They are negotiated with requesting nations by the State Department after advice from the presidentially-appointed Cultural Property Advisory Committee.  

The Antiquities Coalition’s community of scholars, museums, educational institutions, and responsible art market actors commends both countries for their actions today, and urges other countries to seek similar agreements. We likewise call on members of the international community concerned with heritage preservation to join in support of Algeria’s protection initiatives.


About the Antiquities Coalition 

The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the fight against cultural racketeering, the illicit trade in antiquities by organized criminals and terrorist organizations. This plunder for profit funds crime and conflict around the world—erasing our past and threatening our future. The Coalition’s innovative and practical solutions tackle crimes against heritage head on, empowering communities and countries in crisis. Learn more at Follow us on Twitter @CombatLooting.

Media Contact

Albert Fujii,