UNESCO, a collateral casualty of the war in Ukraine

In turn, UNESCO bears the brunt of the divisions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine within the international community. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization decided, Thursday, April 21, in Paris, to postpone the meeting of its World Heritage Committee, scheduled for June in the Russian city of Kazan, indefinitely, due to the divisions raised by this appointment. . The decision was made after long negotiations, which again reflects, as in New York, the difficulty faced by the Westerners in isolating Moscow diplomatically, which is also subject to widespread sanctions.

UNESCO concerned about the damage to Kharkiv and Chernihiv

In a press release published on March 3, UNESCO was concerned about Damage to Kharkiv, a UNESCO Creative City of Music, as well as to the historical center of Chernihiv, inscribed on the Tentative List of World Heritage of Ukraine. This list includes very few sites, and only five are included for their architectural qualities. “Applications for registration are first submitted on the initiative of the states, Explains Martin Duplanter, a French architect who has been teaching in Ukraine and developing projects there for many years. However, the Ukrainian authorities have never been very interested in heritage. Several times I found myself trying to persuade the mayors not to destroy this or that building. The most complex is the XX . structureAnd century, because its evocation immediately brings back memories of the Soviet period. »

This situation explains why there is little knowledge of this heritage in the West. However, the Ukrainian heritage is not limited to Soviet architecture. The classified sites are actually from earlier periods. The tserkoas For example, the massive wooden churches on the border with Poland were built between the 16th centuryAnd and nineteenAnd a century. Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv is the architecture of the eleventhAnd A century of Byzantine influence and the monastic buildings that depended on it were built between the seventeenth centuryAnd and eighteenAnd a century. The monastic group of the kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is an archipelago of churches and partially underground apartment houses, the construction of which spanned between the eleventh century.And and nineteenAnd a century. The historical center of Lviv shelters, in a terrain bequeathed from the Middle Ages, beautiful testimonies of Baroque architecture and later periods. The residence of the Archbishop of Bukovina and Dalmatia, which UNESCO describes as A “An outstanding example of historical architecture” from nineteenAnd a centuryIt recycles Byzantine, Gothic, Baroque motifs… – a symbol of the strength of the Orthodox Church in the time of the Habsburgs built between 1864 and 1882 by Czech architect Josef Hlavka in Chernivtsi. They are located in areas not penetrated by the Russian army, and all these sites are currently intact.

The relevant committee is responsible, among other things, for the inscription of the most famous architectural or natural sites on the planet in the World Heritage List. On April 8, 46 states, mostly Western, threatened to boycott the Kazan assembly, planned long before the war to be held from June 19-30. ” It seems impossible for us to keep 45And Session of the World Heritage Committee in Kazan, chaired by the Russian Federation. He referred to the letter signed by France, the United States or the United Kingdom: “The credibility of UNESCO and the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage depends on it.”

However, an extraordinary session of the Heritage Committee was necessary to move the meeting, which could be held at the request of two-thirds of the 21 member states. The four European countries present there so far (Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria and Greece) have not been able to garner the same amount of support. At least four member states abstained from voting in New York, on March 2, including India and Saudi Arabia, while voting on a resolution condemning Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.

Read also: War in Ukraine, live: Russia wants “full control of Donbass and southern Ukraine,” says senior army officer

Treasures in danger

“African and Arab countries, some Latin American countries did not want to follow in the footsteps of the Europeans against Kazan and the Russian presidency”said a diplomatic source familiar with the matter. However, according to him, “On all subjects directly or indirectly related to the war, the proportion of countries that support the extremist line supported by Westerners decreases over the weeks.”.

To avoid an ongoing blockage, or a large-scale boycott in June, the UNESCO General Directorate has pledged to find a compromise. After a few weeks of secret mediation, she managed to persuade the head of the World Heritage Committee, this year’s Russian ambassador, Alexander Kuznetsov, to propose adjourning the controversial session. “This proposal, to postpone the meeting without specifying the place or date of the next meeting, was the only proposal that could succeed,” Diplomat explains. The committee’s following working modalities should be defined by the end of the year.

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