Document Type



This Article examines the potential for war-crime charges against members of ISIS for “culture crimes” in Syria and Iraq, specifically for group members’ participation in the intentional destruction of cultural and historic sites in the Middle East. This Article begins by tracing the history of legal efforts to protect cultural property and the recent developments in international law that have transformed “culture crimes” into chargeable war crimes. After examining the history of legal efforts to protect property, this Article turns its focus to ISIS and the group’s role in destroying cultural property that it deems antithetical to its brand of Islam and its use of looting historic monuments and the sale of antiquities to further itself financially. Following this primer, this Article examines the available avenues of accountability, the potential forums for prosecution (whether via domestic prosecution, an ad hoc international tribunal, or the International Criminal Court), and how each of those forums may be used to prosecute ISIS members for their destruction of culture.