On July 4-5, the International Conference “Protection of Cultural Heritage and Countering Cultural Erasure in Armed Conflict: New Challenges and Experience of Ukraine” was held in Kyiv. The forum was organized by the “Crimean Institute of Strategic Studies”, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, the partners of the event were the public organizations “Ukrainian Association of International Law” and the “Fund for the Support of Basic Research”.

The conference was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, 1954 and the 25th anniversary of its Second Protocol, 1999. These international documents are the basis for the process of recording the facts of the aggressor’s illegal activities in relation to the cultural heritage of Ukraine, primarily in the Russian-occupied Crimea and parts of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions.

The Forum was attended by Acting Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine Rostislav Karandeev, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andrey Kostin, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Natalia Kalmykova, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Irina Borovets, Head of the UNESCO Office in Ukraine Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi, domestic and foreign experts, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and public figures.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine that began in 2014, and after February 24, 2022 it turned into a full-scale escalation, became the greatest challenge for the monument protection industry. While there are no safe places for cultural property in Ukraine, virtually all categories of monuments without exception are under threat. The only differences are the levels of danger, the nature of the threats and the ability of both the national Ukrainian and international legal systems to respond to them. These issues and problems were discussed at the conference.

The event was held as part of the project “Cultural Heritage of Ukraine during Wartime: Amplifying the Voices of Ukrainian Experts”, under the “Join Us! Community Engagement Program”, which is funded by the USAID and implemented by “Pact in Ukraine”.

Based on the conference materials, the organizers plan to develop recommendations that will be published, including on the resources of our Association.

The basic theses of the declaration developed by the expert community are planned to be announced during the meeting of the UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Event of Armed Conflict in December.

Our next analytical materials will show how the “Crimean case” in the international protection of cultural heritage sites of Ukraine is assessed by the organizers, participants and speakers of the conference.

Ruslan Deremedved, press attaché of the Association

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