ONLINE: Atrocity Prevention and Protecting Cultural Heritage: What’s next for international law?


The destruction of cultural heritage in times of conflict is illegal under international law and is widely recognized as an atrocity crime. The legal community typically focuses on two ways to preserve and protect cultural heritage, treaties and criminal accountability. In an ideal world, these two mechanisms form complementary sides of the same coin: treaties focus on the system of rules around what constitutes cultural heritage, how to protect it, and ways in which it might be attacked, while accountability mechanisms seek to fill the gap for enforcement, punishment, and deterrence. However, both treaties and international justice fail in similar ways: there is no way to ensure compliance with enforcement and monitoring at the local and state level in the international community. 

This begs the question: What next? How should the international community continue to seek justice for the atrocities committed by the Islamic State (ISIS) in Palmyra, by the Taliban at Bamiyan, or by the Syrian government in Aleppo? How can international law prevent the next atrocities?
This webinar will take place live online via Zoom. Registration is free and open to the public, but required. The participation link will be sent to all who register online.


  • Dick Jackson, United States Army (retired)
  • Darin Johnson, Associate Professor of Law, Howard University School of Law, Moderator
  • Roger O’Keefe, Professor of International Law, Università Bocconi Department of Law
  • Ariadna Vallejo, Senior Sanctions Policy Advisor, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Treasury Department
  • Maria van Wagenberg, Attorney-Advisor, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Treasury Department
  • Corine Wegener, Director, Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative

Date and Location

Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm