Mobilisation for Ukrainian Cultural Heritage

The Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and, in the midst of tremendous human suffering it might seem a secondary importance to argue for the safeguarding of cultural heritage. The Cultural Heritage without Borders was established in 1995 as a direct consequence of the Yugoslavian wars and with the understanding that heritage could increase conflicts, but its largest potential was its capacity as an overbridging positive force within post-war societies.

Russia has ratified the 1954 Haag convention on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. The country has also ratified the Unesco convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. Thus, Russia has submitted to the responsibility to protect heritage. We urge the Russian leadership to respect these conventions and to not put museums, collections, and heritage sites, under attack and destruction. The consciously destruction of heritage of another country in order to rewrite its history is a crime on humanity.

In this dark period, we want to, apart from condemning the war as such, point out the necessity to prepare for the reconstruction of the Ukrainian society, when the war ends. Important steps in this direction are the different initiatives by central or national heritage institutions in some European countries. We can easily foresee that in the post-war reconstruction, heritage in all its diverse expressions will play an important and strategic role in Ukraine, and we therefore call for:

  • A coordinated effort from the governmental level to be initiated to create the conditions for establishing cultural heritage-oriented positions to be filled by competent people who have been forced to flee Ukraine. The conditions that need to be created are primarily financial resources, so that central and regional museums as well as other heritage organisations can create such jobs.
  • To create a parallel activity within the university context and in particular the Scholars at Risk network to create corresponding opportunities in an academic context.
  • Investigate the possibilities of broadening the initiative to a common EU strategy.

The goal for those who can take these positions would thus be to establish a network nationally in Sweden, but also with colleagues active in a similar way within the EU, and work with:

  • Continuous monitoring of the state of cultural heritage in Ukraine.
  • Develop strategies and practical solutions to secure the cultural heritage during the war.
  • Start planning for the restoration of a functioning cultural heritage activity in Ukraine and thus support the reconstruction of Ukrainian society.

Cultural Heritage without Borders

Birgitta Johansen Bosse Lagerqvist Lena Flodin
Chair Co-Chair Secretary
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