The International Forum on Safety of Cultural Heritage “WAR IN UKRAINE: THE BATTLE FOR CULTURE” has been launched

On February 8, the International Forum on Safety of Cultural Heritage “WAR IN UKRAINE: THE BATTLE FOR CULTURE” began. The event will last two days in a hybrid format, during which the participants plan to sum up the results of their work, update strategic goals and outline action planning on the cultural front.

The forum was organized by the Heritage Emergency Response Initiative (HERI) in cooperation with the National Museum of the Revolution of Dignity (Maidan Museum) and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

The participants are representatives of museum, archival and library institutions, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, rescue and support initiatives in the field of culture, international organizations, non-governmental and government aid initiatives.

Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Minister of Culture and Information Policy, also took part in the event, and expressed his conviction that the interaction and synergy of government bodies and public initiatives are necessary conditions for resilience of culture and stability of society in times of war.

“The preservation of cultural heritage was not on the list of state priorities for almost three decades, which makes the situation with its protection and rescue extremely difficult today. At the same time, the war made it clear that cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, is one of the key elements of national security. That is why MCIP took the initiative to establish this priority at the legislative level – through amendments to the Law on National Security and the adoption of two framework Laws “On the principles of state policy in the field of cultural heritage” and “On the preservation and restoration of national memory”, said Oleksandr Tkachenko.

In addition, the Minister noted that during this time the efforts of MCIP were aimed at:

  • launch of mechanisms for providing international assistance in the field of culture;
  • advocacy for the protection of the cultural heritage of Ukraine through nominations to UNESCO, active communication with international partners, intergovernmental organizations;
  • rescue of objects of cultural heritage, in particular, evacuation of museum collections from frontline regions where it is possible;
  • collection of data on damage and loss of cultural cultural heritage;
  • development of algorithms for recording, documenting war crimes against cultural heritage, assessing damages, establishing cooperation with military and law enforcement agencies, etc.;
  • return of cultural values illegally exported by russians – both during this war and before;
  • lobbying of the Institute of Monuments Men as a part of the Armed Forces – a specialized unit that will take care of issues of cultural heritage protection.

In her turn, ICOMOS President Teresa Patricio also emphasized the importance of joint efforts.

“The scale of the loss of the cultural heritage of Ukraine is now enormous. These are losses for both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Therefore, joint efforts with MCIP and other professionals are very important in the work of heritage preservation, because the coordination of work will allow us to quickly prepare for restoration,” said Teresa Patricio.

Katarzyna Zalasińska, Director of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage in Poland, pointed out that it is important to carry on acting actively and in solidarity.

“Culture is a fundamental aspect for future generations. Therefore, we continue to act in solidarity and actively. In response to russian aggression against Ukraine, we responded to the humanitarian crisis and are still mobilizing resources at all levels of the Government. We are planning to take part in the events  on restoration of cultural heritage of Ukraine. We are ready to share our expertise. Because culture is primarily  identity and it is important to protect it,” underlined Katarzyna Zalasińska.

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