UNIDROIT attends EUAM workshop on the protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage


 On the 23rd and 24th of February 2024, UNIDROIT Principal Legal Officer and Treaty Depositary Marina Schneider was invited to join a Workshop on Crimes Against Cultural Heritage organised in Kiev by the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM)-Ukraine.

The two-day event focused attention on the means of protecting cultural heritage in Ukraine and highlighted the risks faced by cultural heritage due to armed conflict. The target audience consisted of Ukrainian investigators, members of the state security service and prosecutors. The discussion focused on the offences against cultural heritage, war crimes, prosecution, and the legal instruments that Ukraine can implement.

In this context, participants considered the legal framework, operational approaches and international and local response to cultural heritage crimes, highlighting the importance of cooperation, coordinated efforts and information exchange at national and international levels.

Several recommendations were made, among which the need to establish a special subdivision to specifically prosecute and investigate crimes against cultural heritage in Ukraine.

Particular attention was also paid to the aspect of reparations and compensation for looted and illicitly transferred cultural property. In this area, UNIDROIT presented the key role of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, the only international convention creating uniform mechanisms and procedures for restitution. Ukraine participated in the negotiation of the 1995 Convention but has not yet ratified it.

This workshop took place after the high-profile conference held in May 2023 in Lviv entitled “Cultural Heritage Crime: In Wartime and Beyond” and was aimed to strengthen the protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage through advisory support and facilitation of inter-agency and international coordination and information exchange.

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