Ukraine’s Odesa added to world heritage list amid threats of destruction


The historic centre of the port city of Odesa, in Ukraine, has been inscribed on the UN's cultural body's world heritage list, 11 months since the full-scale Russian invasion.

"Odesa, a free city, a world city, a legendary port that has left its mark on cinema, literature and the arts, is thus placed under the reinforced protection of the international community," said UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Audrey Azoulay Wednesday.

"While the war continues, this inscription embodies our collective determination to ensure that this city, which has always surmounted global upheavals, is preserved from further destruction."

The decision commits the 194 States Parties of the Convention – which includes Russia – not to undertake any deliberate step that may directly or indirectly damage the world heritage site and to assist in its protection.

The historic centre of Odesa has also been inscribed on the more than 50-strong list of world heritage in danger, which gives it access to reinforced technical and financial international assistance.

Ukraine may request this, to ensure the protection of the property and, if necessary, assist in reconstruction, if attacked.

Given the threats to the city from Russia's armed forces and irregulars, the World Heritage Committee used an emergency procedure provided for by the World Heritage Convention.

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As early as the summer of 2022, UNESCO linked international experts with Ukrainian experts to prepare the nomination, with the support of Italy and Greece.

Ukraine's President Zelensky made the submission official in October 2022, and the nomination was evaluated over the following weeks.

In parallel with the inscription process, UNESCO implemented emergency measures on the ground to help protect the site.

Notably, the organisation ensured repairs were carried out following damage inflicted by Russian attacks on the Odesa Museum of Fine Arts and the Odesa Museum of Modern Art.

So far, the historic western Ukrainian city has not come under the kind of sustained bombardment that laid waste to the once-thriving port city of Mariupol, hundreds of kilometres to the east.

Source: United News of Bangladesh