Skip to main content Accessibility help

From Babylon to Baghdad: Cultural Heritage and Constitutional Law in the Republic of Iraq

  • Tess Davis (a1)

The Constitution of the Republic of Iraq entered force in 2005, placing such “national treasures” as “antiquities, archeological sites, cultural buildings, manuscripts, and coins” under federal jurisdiction to be “managed in cooperation with the regions and governorates.” This provision may not immediately appear significant or controversial, but it is both. Federalism remains a heated and even deadly issue in Iraq, which is still balancing authority between its capital and other parts of the country. The Constitution’s handling of heritage—like its comparable treatment of oil and gas—therefore raises many questions. The answers to these have massive implications, as they not only determine who governs culture in Iraq but also could void much existing domestic law and unravel the country’s entire heritage management system. This study thus aims to clarify the Constitution’s treatment of antiquities and archaeology, resolving who controls one of Iraq’s most important historic, cultural, and economic resources.

Hide All
Atwood, Roger. Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004.
Brown, Nathan. The Final Draft of the Iraqi Constitution: Analysis and Commentary. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (16 September 2005).
Deeks, Ashley, and Burton, Matthew. “Iraq’s Constitution: A Drafting History.” Cornell International Law Journal 40 (2007, Winter): 187.
Fallows, James. “Blind into Baghdad.” The Atlantic. (1 January 2004).
Gerstenblith, Patty. “Legal Damage Control for Iraq’s Looted Cultural Heritage: The Need for U.S. Import Restrictions.” Jurist. (23 February 2004).
Gerstenblith, Patty. “Schultz and Barakat: Universal Recognition of National Ownership of Antiquities.” Art, Antiquity and Law 14, no. 1 (April 2009): 2148.
Hiltermann, Joost, Kane, Sean, and Alkadiri, Raad. “Iraq’s Federalism Quandary.” The National Interest. (28 February 2012).
Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. (13 December 2005).
Langfield, Michael, Logan, William, and Craith, Mairead Nic, eds. Cultural Diversity, Heritage, and Human Rights: Intersections in Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2010.
Mallat, Chibli. Iraq: Guide to Law and Policy. New York: Wolters Kluwer, 2009.
Rothfield, Larry. The Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind the Looting of the Baghdad Museum. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009.
Stone, Peter, and Bajjaly, Joanne Farchakh, eds. The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2008.
The Substance of the Constitution Compromise. (14 October 2005).
Transitional Justice Working Group. “Future of Iraq Project.” First Session.∼nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB198/20020709.pdf (9–10 July 2002).
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Law of Governorates Not Incorporated into a Region: As Amended by Law 15 of 2012 and Footnoted. Washington, DC: USAID. (March 2011).
Vrdoljak, Ana Filipa. International Law, Museums and the Return of Cultural Objects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Cultural Property
  • ISSN: 0940-7391
  • EISSN: 1465-7317
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-cultural-property
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed