GENEVA – The UNESCO World Heritage Committee said Wednesday it will inscribe on the World Heritage List the Historic Center of Ukraine's port city of Odesa, which Russia has attacked with missiles.
The decision recognizes the outstanding universal value of the site on the Black Sea and the duty of all humanity to protect it, UNESCO said in a statement.
"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.
"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.
Under the terms of the World Heritage Convention, the 194 States Parties of the Convention, of which Russia is also a signatory, commit not to undertake any deliberate step that may directly or indirectly damage the World Heritage site and to assist in its protection.
Odesa has also been inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which gives it access to reinforced technical and financial international assistance, which Ukraine may request to ensure the protection of the property and, if necessary, assist in its rehabilitation.
Due to the threats to Ukraine's third most populous city since Russia launched its war on Feb. 24 last year, the World Heritage Committee used an emergency procedure provided for in the Operational Guidelines of the World Heritage Convention.
As early as mid-2022, UNESCO linked international experts with Ukrainian experts to prepare the nomination, with the support of Italy and Greece.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made the submission official in October in an online speech to UNESCO.
The evaluation bodies examined the nomination over the following weeks, allowing for a review at this week's extraordinary World Heritage Committee in Paris.
In recent months, along with inscribing the Historic Center of Odesa on the World Heritage List, UNESCO implemented emergency measures on the ground to help protect the site.
Since the beginning of the war, UNESCO has notably ensured the repairs to damage inflicted on the Odesa Museum of Fine Arts and the Odesa Museum of Modern Art.
The UN organization also provided equipment for digitizing nearly 1,000 works of art and the documentary collection of the Odesa State Archives.
Equipment was also delivered to protect the buildings and the open-air works of art.
These measures are part of UNESCO's overall action plan in Ukraine, which has already mobilized more than USD18 million for education, science, culture and information. (Anadolu)