Thursday, May 9, 2024
Unesco pledges to restore Ukraine's culture with $6.9bn.

Unesco pledges to restore Ukraine’s culture with $6.9bn.

Unesco Director General Pledges to Support Ukraine’s Culture Sector Recovery

Audrey Azoulay, the Director General of Unesco, has reiterated the organisation’s support for rebuilding the cultural sector in war-torn Ukraine, pledging to invest $6.9bn in the sector over the next decade. Azoulay’s pledge came during her two-day mission to Ukraine where she visited Kyiv, Chernihiv and Odesa. Ukraine has an ambitious recovery plan for the cultural sector, with “short-term needs” estimated to be $2.3bn (2023-2026), “medium- to long-term needs” expected to be around $4.6bn (2027-2033), totalling $6.9bn. Unesco has outlined a comprehensive recovery plan to rebuild the sector, which involves damage assessment and documentation, emergency measures for cultural immovable and movable properties, stabilisation and conservation measures for cultural assets, storage management, preparedness plans and immediate conservation to prevent further loss and looting. A detailed document outlines the process and includes the development of protocols and guidelines for protecting and recovering cultural heritage, alignment with international standards, enhanced legal protection and governance, and a comprehensive digital architecture to document and manage cultural property.

Unesco’s Emergency Measures and Practical Reconstruction Training Sessions

Unesco has already undertaken a series of emergency measures in Ukraine, including mobilising more than $10m to strengthen its response to the education emergency in the country. Moreover, Unesco will provide a series of on-site practical reconstruction training sessions for Ukrainian architects, conservators, and urban planners. Unesco will continue to list and assess the damage done to Ukrainian cultural sites since the war began in February last year. Unesco has also vowed to develop a rehabilitation project, in partnership with Ukrainian authorities, to preserve the historic centre of the northern city of Chernihiv, which is inscribed on the World Heritage Tentative List. 

Odesa Becomes an Endangered World Heritage Site

Unesco has also voted in favor of adding the historic city centre of the Ukrainian Black Sea port city of Odesa to its list of endangered World Heritage sites. The decision was opposed by Russia’s Unesco commission, which claimed in a statement that the decision to award Odesa endangered status was “politically biased and scientifically unsubstantiated” and had been pushed through with only minority support. Unesco plans to prioritise the preservation and digitisation of artistic and documentary heritage while maintaining the protection of heritage buildings endangered by artillery fire. It will also launch a project to improve the conservation of Odesa’s archaeological museum collections with funding from the foundation of the Unesco Goodwill Ambassador, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.

The Politics of Unesco in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine underpins the fraught politics of Unesco, as noted in a report last year. Unesco has a significant presence in the country, but Ukraine also serves as a battleground for geopolitical interests, particularly between Russia and the West. However, this Unesco initiative has been condemned by Russian officials, who believe that Unesco is politically biased and is not following genuine standards.

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