ICC sentences al-Mahdi for destruction of heritage as war crime

The Prince Claus Fund has closely followed the groundbreaking ICC trial of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi and welcomes his conviction for the deliberate destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque in northern Mali.

Prince Claus Fund Director, Joumana El Zein Khoury, is pleased that cultural destruction has finally been recognised as an independent crime against humanity: “Destroying a people’s heritage is a means to wipe out their memory,” she says. “We think of it as destructive to a particular community, but cultural heritage is also a record for all humanity. Timbuktu was a major trading hub, part of the Mali Empire. It was a renowned centre of learning in the 14thand 15thcenturies, with a university that attracted many important Islamic scholars. That record is part of world history. This ICC judgement is a strong statement that cultural heritage must be protected for all of us and for generations to come.”

The Prince Claus Fund’s Cultural Emergency Response (CER) programme, has been providing first aid to cultural heritage that is damaged or under threat from natural or man-made disasters for the past 13 years. It has built up an extensive network of people dedicated to the preservation of historical monuments, records and artefacts. 

Although the Fund was not involved in the particular heritage destroyed under al-Mahdi’s command, the CER programme did support the evacuation of ancient manuscripts from Timbuktu as militant rebels were seizing control of the city in 2012.

The Fund was asked by the BBC to comment on the importance of heritage in Timbuktu in light of the conviction. For an excerpt of the interview with the Prince Claus Fund’s Communications Officer Sarah Smith click here.

ICC sentences al-Mahdi for destruction of heritage as war crime

"cultural heritage is a record for all humanity"

Joumana El Zein Khoury

ICC sentences al-Mahdi for destruction of heritage as war crime

 
 
 
 

ICC sentences al-Mahdi for destruction of heritage as war crime

The Prince Claus Fund has closely followed the groundbreaking ICC trial of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi and welcomes his conviction for the deliberate destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque in northern Mali. Prince Claus Fund Director, Joumana El Zein Khoury, is pleased that cultural destruction has finally been recognised as an independent crime against humanity: “Destroying a people’s...