New laws banning the trade in illegally removed Syrian and Iraqi cultural property

On 15 October 2015, regulations will come into force banning the trade in illegally removed Syrian cultural property.

These regulations are made under Part 4 of the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 and will give effect to Australia's international obligations under United Nations Security Council resolution 2199 (2015) relating to the protection of Syrian and Iraqi cultural property. Many of these items are being sold to finance terrorist activities in Syria and Iraq.

As a result of the regulations it will be an offence to sell, trade or transfer cultural property items that have been illegally removed from Syria since 15 March 2011. The trade in illegally removed Iraqi cultural property has been banned since 2008. On 15 October 2015, minor amendments will be made to these existing laws.

If an item of illegally removed cultural property is identified, the Secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be able to issue a statement imposing conditions for its storage. Consultation between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry for Arts will then occur to determine whether the item can be safely returned to Syria or Iraq.

Further information:

Australia and sanctions

Sanctions are measures not involving the use of armed force that are imposed in situations of international concern, including the grave repression of human rights, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, or armed conflict.

They impose restrictions on activities that relate to particular countries, goods and services, or persons and entities.

Australian sanction laws implement United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions regimes and Australian autonomous sanctions regimes.

Contravening an Australian sanction law may be a serious criminal offence. Penalties for sanctions offences include up to ten years in prison and substantial fines.

You should consider seeking legal advice in relation to an activity that may contravene an Australian sanction law.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Minister's delegate may be able to grant a permit authorising an activity that would otherwise contravene an Australian sanction law.

You can contact us in relation to sanctions permits by registering as a user of the Online Sanctions Administration System (OSAS).

Contacting us is no substitute for seeking legal advice. We can provide information on Australian sanction laws, but can only provide legal advice to the Australian Government.

We are committed to administering Australian sanction laws diligently, but also in a way that facilitates trade wherever possible.

Please carefully consider the information in this section before contacting us. You can find detailed information by following the links in the menu.

Last Updated: 11 September 2014