The 70th Anniversary Of Ukraine’s Membership In UNESCO

Augusto Sarmento - Education · Lifestyle · Opinion
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Photo: Saint Sophia Cathedral

Ukraine is a country with a history of more than 1000 years, a meeting place for various cultures. From its iconic landmarks to its vibrant folk traditions, Ukraine’s cultural heritage is a source of national pride and identity.

As of 2023, there are eight World Heritage Sites listed in Ukraine, seven of which are cultural sites and one is a natural site. The first site listed was “Kyiv: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra” (listed in 1990).

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Dating back as far as the XI century, St. Sophia Cathedral preserves one of the world’s largest ensembles of unique mosaics and frescoes of the first quarter of that century.  An outstanding monument of Ukrainian and world culture, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is an Orthodox monastery founded in 1051 by monks Anthony and Theodosius near Kyiv. In the XI century, the monastery became the centre of Christianity in Kyivan Rus.

Photo: Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

The most recent site listed was the Historic Centre of Odesa, in 2023. The site was immediately listed as endangered because of the 2022 Russian invasion, the sites of Kyiv and Lviv were added to the endangered list as well later in the same year.

Photo: The Historic Centre of Odesa – UNESCO World Heritage Centre

May 2024 marks a remarkable milestone for Ukraine—the 70th anniversary of its membership in UNESCO, a testament to its enduring commitment to advancing the organization’s objectives. Since joining on May 12, 1954, Ukraine has played a pivotal role in promoting education, science, and the preservation of cultural heritage. Ukraine has spearheaded initiatives aimed at promoting education, science, and the preservation of cultural heritage.

Supporting Education and Youth Self-Determination

 

Education and youth self-determination have been central to Ukraine’s participation in UNESCO. The country initiated a massive international campaign to combat illiteracy at the 26th session of the UNESCO General Conference in 1991, laying the groundwork for UNESCO’s subsequent efforts in this area.

Moreover, Ukraine has embraced UNESCO initiatives aimed at empowering young people to become agents of positive change. The introduction of the Junior Ambassadors program for UNESCO-associated schools highlights Ukraine’s commitment to nurturing a new generation of global citizens dedicated to promoting human rights, cultural heritage, and environmental sustainability.

Through collaborative efforts such as the Peace Culture Program and mass international campaigns to combat illiteracy, Ukraine has demonstrated its dedication to fostering a culture of peace and understanding both domestically and internationally.

Overcoming Challenges with Resilience, UNESCO involvement

Despite current challenges, Ukraine has remained steadfast in its commitment to UNESCO’s principles and values, using the organization’s platform to raise awareness about ongoing conflicts and advocate for international support. UNESCO has provided critical assistance to Ukraine in protecting its cultural heritage sites and promoting peacebuilding efforts in the region.

As of 10 April 2024, UNESCO has verified damage to 351 sites since 24 February 2022 – 129 religious sites, 157 buildings of historical and/or artistic interest, 31 museums, 19 monuments, 14 libraries, 1 archive. (Source: https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/damaged-cultural-sites-ukraine-verified-unesco  )

In 2023, 25 objects of cultural heritage of Ukraine were granted enhanced protection within the framework of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954 and the Second Protocol of 1999 for it.

“Timor-Leste, a young nation in Southeast Asia, with a rich cultural heritage shaped by centuries of tradition and resilience. I admire how Timorese people preserve their culture, Recognizing the importance of preserving this heritage. From its colorful festivals to its intricate traditional textiles known as Tais, Listed of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, Timor-Leste’s cultural identity is deeply rooted in its unique customs and practices. Through their shared dedication to UNESCO’s objectives, Timor-Leste and Ukraine have the opportunity to exchange knowledge, best practices, and experiences of protecting historical sites and preserving culture”. – said CDA Denys Mykhailiuk, The Embassy of Ukraine in Malaysia, Head of the non-resident Mission of Ukraine to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

Through active participation in UNESCO’s working bodies and governing entities, Ukraine continues to uphold its interests on the global stage, ensuring that its voice is heard and its contributions are recognized.

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