Country Risk

Legal action unlikely to deter militant groups from destroying historic sites

26 October 2017

Key Points

  • The Islamic State’s destruction of cultural and religious sites appears to have been part of a broader propaganda strategy aimed at gaining and maintaining international media attention, and in this regard it was successful.
  • In contrast, it appears that the group enjoyed only limited success in its attempts to energise its online support base through these activities, although attempts by social media platforms to remove pro-Islamic State content make a definitive assessment difficult.
  • The prospect of international legal action against groups and individuals who destroy cultural and religious sites in future may not be sufficient to deter them, and may act as an incentive given the additional attention it would draw.

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