Stop Russia from hosting key World Heritage meeting on Ukraine, UK demands – POLITICO

LONDON – Britain is lobbying other countries to remove Russia from hosting and chairing the next annual meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee over its invasion of Ukraine.

The committee meets once a year to discuss the management of World Heritage sites – landmarks and sites that enjoy special legal protection because of their cultural significance – and to receive nominations from countries for inclusion on the list.

Russia is scheduled to host and chair the next committee meeting in Kazan on June 19-30.

But Britain’s culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, said in a letter sent to countries on the 21-member committee on Tuesday and shared with POLITICO that continuing with this plan would be “a tragedy for the world and a scar for our shared values”.

The letter accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “barbaric destruction of significant property” in Ukraine and violating Russia’s international obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention, which aims to protect cultural property in conflict.

“The world will not forgive us if we allow the Putin regime to take care of humanity’s heritage while demolishing Ukraine’s cities and killing its civilians, including the desperate people who have taken refuge in the Mariupol theater ‘ Dorries wrote.

“As a member of the World Heritage Committee, I urge you to direct your delegation to UNESCO to act swiftly and decisively to withdraw the right to host and chair this year’s meeting from the Russian Federation.”

The 21-member committee consists of a rotating cast of countries serving up to six years in office.

Britain faces an uphill battle to prevail, however, with the decision having to be taken by the Bureau of the committee, which currently includes Argentina, Italy, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand and Russia.

Of these, only Argentina and Italy voted against Russia in a recent UNESCO resolution condemning Russian aggression.

UNESCO rules require the location of the meeting to be decided at least 60 days before it begins, leaving the UK with just a week to persuade Bureau members to remove Russia as the next host.

The United Kingdom was among the signatories to one Open letter from 46 nations directly to the The UNESCO World Heritage Committee called for action last week.

“We have only days to prevent this shameful charade from happening,” Dorrie’s latest letter reads. “If an alternative venue and chair cannot be found in time, the meeting should be canceled altogether, as happened in 2020 due to the pandemic.”

Dorries said the cancellation was “the very last thing we have to do in this 50th year.”th Anniversary year of the Convention.” However, the UK minister argued that postponing the event overall would be “the lesser evil compared to the damage that would be caused by a meeting hosted or chaired by President Putin’s regime”. Stop Russia from hosting key World Heritage meeting on Ukraine, UK demands - POLITICO

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