How will UNESCO protect Odesa?

UNESCO has placed the Ukrainian city of Odesa on its heritage list as a place of many historical ‘universal’ sites. 

Last Wednesday’s decision by UNESCO’s top body, its World Heritage Committee, stated its crucially important to protect the port city of Odesa, and ensure its not subjected to incoming Russian missiles.

The southern port city has frequently been embroiled in the Russian-Ukraine conflict with start of the war on the country by Moscow since Feb. 24, 2022.

“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 Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, welcoming the inscription as quoted in Anadolu.

“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,” Azoulay said.

A signatory to the World Heritage Convention together with 194 other states, Russia has used delaying tactics to stop the vote to include Odesa on UNESCO’s danger list and in need of protection, but in the end failed.

The new vote commits signatories not to undertake any deliberate steps that may directly, or indirectly damage the World Heritage site and to assist in its protection. The vote also allows UNESCO to give international assistance, protection of its property and help in its rehabilitation.

Its estimated that more than 400 “cultural objects” in Ukraine were seriously damaged during the war.

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