UN culture chief Irina Bokova urged the Security Council on Monday to task peacekeepers with protecting cultural sites and to help prosecute those who destroy historical treasures.
International alarm has been growing over the fate of artifacts and monuments in Iraq and Syria after videos surfaced of jihadists destroying priceless works.
Bokova deplored the “cultural cleansing” being carried out in Iraq and Syria during a special Security Council meeting.
The director of the UN’s culture agency UNESCO said protecting national heritage must be included in the mandate of peacekeeping missions as is the case in Mali following the destruction of Timbuktu shrines.
Bokova said she was also working to encourage the International Criminal Court to open investigations on the destruction of sites.
The Security Council in February adopted a resolution that seeks to cut off financing to the Islamic State group from the smuggling of antiquities.
It slapped a ban on the sale of antiquities from Syria, while a 10-year-old ban on those from Iraq remains in force.