In late November, the BSI Secretariat visited Ukraine to evaluate the effects of the war on Ukraine’s cultural sector. The Secretariat met with a wide number of Ukrainians working on heritage protection and visited sites in Kyiv, Odesa, and Kherson oblasts (regions) to deepen awareness and understanding of the damage and looting of cultural heritage that has occurred during the current conflict, assess the impact on affected communities and institutions, and provide recommendations to the Ukrainian authorities.
Following the visit, Dr Michael Delacruz of the BSI Secretariat met with the Deputy Minister of Culture, Kateryna Chuyeva, on 1 December in Vienna (Austria). They discussed initial observations from the mission, and preliminary recommendations for further capacity development activities, focussing on collecting and disseminating information on damage to cultural property.
This was followed by consultations with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Secretariat and the Border Security and Management Team for developing a programme of support which will include training in-country. The training will focus on enhancing capabilities in the Ukrainian governmental and non-governmental heritage sectors to combat the negative impact of the current conflict on cultural heritage.
On 04 December, Dr Delacruz met with representatives with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Humanitarian Law Advisory Team to share observations and assessments of the situation in Ukraine. the discussion focussed on international humanitarian law (IHL) including the the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols, and the 1954 Hague Conventions for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols (1954/1999). The parties also discussed ways to further cooperation between BSI and ICRC with respect to potential violations of IHL in relation to cultural heritage.