The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has decided that the organization will place the world heritage sites in the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv and Lviv on the UNESCO list of World Heritage in Danger.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization cited the threat of war as the reason for its action.
At its annual meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, the committee placed Kyiv on the UNESCO list Saint Sophia Cathedral and Kiev-Pechersk Lavra or the cave monastery in the Ukrainian capital and the old town of Lviv. The historic core of Odessa was already included in this list in January.
According to the committee’s assessment, both sights – the cathedral and the monastery in Kiev are inscribed together on the UNESCO World Heritage List – are in danger due to the Russian attack on Ukraine, and their protection is made more difficult due to the conflicts.
Historic buildings in Lviv were also the targets of attacks in early July, which according to UNESCO still represents the first attack since the beginning of the war in an area protected by the World Heritage Convention. It was therefore the first violation of this convention, to which Russia is also a signatory. The historic center of the medieval city of Lviv has also been on the World Heritage List since 1996.
At the same time, UNESCO called on the international community to protect all the natural and cultural heritage of Ukraine, emphasizing that the two mentioned cities have been repeatedly exposed to airstrikes.
According to the words Marie Böhmerpresident of the German UNESCO Commission, the war in Ukraine also poses the danger that Ukrainian cultural treasures will be looted. “The international community must work closely together to stop the illegal trade in cultural goods,” she emphasized.
With the designation of endangered heritage, UNESCO encourages better preservation of a certain area. In exceptionally suitable locations, the World Heritage designation may be withdrawn if the authorities deem that the protective measures are not satisfactory.