UNESCO urges postponement of conference planned in Russia – ARTnews.com
UNESCO, a United Nations agency responsible for overseeing a number of cultural heritage sites around the world, is facing pressure from European groups to reschedule a meeting that was held in Kazan, Russia, after the country’s invasion of Ukraine , to be held. The 45th edition of the committee meeting, hosted by the Russian Federation, is scheduled to take place on June 19-30.
Heritage group Europa Nostra and Britain’s Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries were among those who said UNESCO should not hold its World Heritage Committee in the city as planned.
The Russian Federation offered to host this year’s conference as early as July 2021 during the 44th edition of the committee’s summit. A UNESCO spokesman said the location of the 45th session could be changed by member states of the World Heritage Committee, which is made up of 21 member states elected from 194 countries.
In 2019, Russia was elected to host the meeting for a four-year period. This was announced by a spokesman for UNESCO art newspaper that there are no plans yet to move the session from Kazan.
A UNESCO representative did not immediately respond ARTnews Additional comment please.
The Auschwitz Memorial, which oversees the preservation of a Nazi concentration camp in Poland, issued a statement on Twitter in early March condemning the plan to hold the conference under the Russian presidency. The organization claimed doing so was “a mockery of innocent Ukrainian victims.”
More than 30 academics and professionals concerned with cultural heritage have penned a letter to UNESCO urging the group to change its plan for the World Heritage Committee meeting, calling it “unacceptable”.
In early March, as the conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces intensified, UNESCO expressed concern about threats to cultural heritage sites across Ukraine. UNESCO has since stated that more than 50 such sites have suffered damage during the war so far.
UNESCO has asked Ukrainian museum officials for contributions to protect endangered cultural assets. Among the organizations it works with to track down threats to Ukraine’s cultural heritage is Artists at Risk, a global nonprofit that helps artists in conflict-affected areas.
Kazan, the city where the World Heritage Committee meeting is set to take place, is currently experiencing an influx of Russian refugees into the city. Last week it was reported that around 500 refugees from eastern Ukraine arrived by train in the southwestern Russian province overnight amid Russian attacks that had devastated Mariupol.