‘All that we’re wrecking is stones,’ was the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar’s description of the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan, the largest standing statues of Buddha in the world. The priority of the fighters was not smashing stones, but breaking the soul of a culture, the spirit of people who venerated other gods. Practice-based examples of emergency relief in disaster and conflict situations are alternated with contributions that tackle international legal questions, political dimensions and sociocultural perspectives. The result is both an indictment of the senseless destruction of cultural heritage and an impassioned argument for culture as a fundamental factor in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the societies that have been affected by conflict and disaster. This pioneering first handbook for cultural emergency relief is being launched in the framework of the Prince Claus Fund’s Cultural Emergency Response programme. Amongst other issues, it includes a compelling contribution on efforts to safeguard the collections and reconstruct the National Museum of Afghanistan that suffered immensely from the effects of war and the destabilising effects of the iconoclastic Taliban regime. It also addresses the global traffic in Iraqi antiquities and recovery efforts following the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003. Locally rooted reconstruction initiatives in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 are also examined. The publication is illustrated by a captivating series of photo essays such as that demonstrating the impact of the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010 on Haiti’s unique architectural heritage. The publication Cultural Emergency in Conflict and Disaster, designed by Irma Boom, has a specially designed scratch cover..