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Pressure on Unesco to relocate World Heritage Committee meeting from Russia

Organisations including the Auschwitz Memorial and Europa Nostra, as well as the UK’s culture minister Nadine Dorries, have called on Unesco to change the location of its 45th annual World Heritage Committee meeting, which is currently scheduled to take place in Russia




The Kazan Kremlin is among Russia’s Unesco World Heritage sites and where the meeting is scheduled to take place   Credit: Unesco World Heritage Centre

Unesco is facing pressure from a number of organisations and senior politicians to relocate its 2022 World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting, with the event currently scheduled to take place in Kazan, Russia, this coming June.

A response to the Vladimir Putin-led Russian invasion of Ukraine, several organisations including the Auschwitz Memorial have voiced their opposition to the 2022 meeting going ahead at its current location under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation. European heritage advocacy group Europa Nostra and UK culture minister Nadine Dorries have also said that Russia should be prevented from hosting the meeting.

“Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine means the Russian regime has to be made an international pariah. Given this, it is inconceivable that the Unesco conference could be held in Russia and, if it is, the UK will not be attending,” said Dorries, speaking to the I newspaper.

“Russia should not be putting civilian lives or cultural heritage at risk. The UK is committed to pursuing any breaches of international conventions that Russia has signed up to.”

Meanwhile a statement from Europa Nostra said: “Deliberate attacks by Russia’s army violate the provisions both of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and of the 1972 Unesco World Heritage Convention. The Russian Federation must withdraw as chair of this year’s World Heritage Committee.”

The Auschwitz Memorial - the organisation responsible for maintaining the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland - released a statement decrying the meeting’s location.

“Given the unjustifiable Russian military aggression in independent and sovereign Ukraine, planning a discussion on World Heritage in Russia sounds like a mockery of innocent Ukrainian victims,” the statement read.


According to The Art Newspaper a letter, saying that it’s “unacceptable to organise the committee meeting in Russia,” has been signed by more than 35 arts professionals and academics and sent to members of the Unesco World Heritage Committee.

Gravely concerned

In March, Unesco called for the protection of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, saying it was “gravely concerned” after Russian armed forces destroyed several heritage sites in the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv. Despite these concerns, the organisation currently has no plans to relocate the meeting.

According to a Unesco spokesperson, the date and location of upcoming WHC meetings are determined by the WHC at the meeting prior, with Russia elected for a four-year term in 2019.

“The decision by the member states of the WHC to hold the 45th session of the committee in Kazan was taken at the 44th session in July 2021 following the invitation by the Russian Federation. A change of location can be decided at this stage by the member states of the WHC in the governance bodies dedicated to this committee,” the spokesperson said.

As yet there have been no formal requests from any of the WHC’s 21 member states to relocate the meeting and would require either an extraordinary vote, held on request of at least two-thirds of committee members, or a dedicated meeting of WHC’s Bureau, an annually-elected body that consists of seven states and is currently chaired by Russia.


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Pressure on Unesco to relocate World Heritage Committee meeting from Russia | Planet Attractions
news

Pressure on Unesco to relocate World Heritage Committee meeting from Russia

Organisations including the Auschwitz Memorial and Europa Nostra, as well as the UK’s culture minister Nadine Dorries, have called on Unesco to change the location of its 45th annual World Heritage Committee meeting, which is currently scheduled to take place in Russia




The Kazan Kremlin is among Russia’s Unesco World Heritage sites and where the meeting is scheduled to take place   Credit: Unesco World Heritage Centre

Unesco is facing pressure from a number of organisations and senior politicians to relocate its 2022 World Heritage Committee (WHC) meeting, with the event currently scheduled to take place in Kazan, Russia, this coming June.

A response to the Vladimir Putin-led Russian invasion of Ukraine, several organisations including the Auschwitz Memorial have voiced their opposition to the 2022 meeting going ahead at its current location under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation. European heritage advocacy group Europa Nostra and UK culture minister Nadine Dorries have also said that Russia should be prevented from hosting the meeting.

“Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine means the Russian regime has to be made an international pariah. Given this, it is inconceivable that the Unesco conference could be held in Russia and, if it is, the UK will not be attending,” said Dorries, speaking to the I newspaper.

“Russia should not be putting civilian lives or cultural heritage at risk. The UK is committed to pursuing any breaches of international conventions that Russia has signed up to.”

Meanwhile a statement from Europa Nostra said: “Deliberate attacks by Russia’s army violate the provisions both of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and of the 1972 Unesco World Heritage Convention. The Russian Federation must withdraw as chair of this year’s World Heritage Committee.”

The Auschwitz Memorial - the organisation responsible for maintaining the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland - released a statement decrying the meeting’s location.

“Given the unjustifiable Russian military aggression in independent and sovereign Ukraine, planning a discussion on World Heritage in Russia sounds like a mockery of innocent Ukrainian victims,” the statement read.


According to The Art Newspaper a letter, saying that it’s “unacceptable to organise the committee meeting in Russia,” has been signed by more than 35 arts professionals and academics and sent to members of the Unesco World Heritage Committee.

Gravely concerned

In March, Unesco called for the protection of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, saying it was “gravely concerned” after Russian armed forces destroyed several heritage sites in the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv. Despite these concerns, the organisation currently has no plans to relocate the meeting.

According to a Unesco spokesperson, the date and location of upcoming WHC meetings are determined by the WHC at the meeting prior, with Russia elected for a four-year term in 2019.

“The decision by the member states of the WHC to hold the 45th session of the committee in Kazan was taken at the 44th session in July 2021 following the invitation by the Russian Federation. A change of location can be decided at this stage by the member states of the WHC in the governance bodies dedicated to this committee,” the spokesperson said.

As yet there have been no formal requests from any of the WHC’s 21 member states to relocate the meeting and would require either an extraordinary vote, held on request of at least two-thirds of committee members, or a dedicated meeting of WHC’s Bureau, an annually-elected body that consists of seven states and is currently chaired by Russia.


 



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