The World Heritage Committee composed by members from 21 countries decided today to inscribe the Historic Centre of Odesa (Ukraine) on the World Heritage List. This decision recognizes the outstanding universal value of the site and the duty of all humanity to protect it.
The Historic Centre of Odesa has also been included on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which gives it access to reinforced technical and financial international assistance, which Ukraine may request so as to ensure the protection of the property and, if necessary, assist in its rehabilitation.
Under the terms of the World Heritage Convention, the 194 States Parties of the Convention commit not to undertake any deliberate step that may directly or indirectly damage the World Heritage site and to assist in its protection.
“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. 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,” Audrey Azoulay (UNESCO Director-General) points.
The inscription has been agreed despite the opposition of Russia as the application entered by Ukraine did not pay the deserved recognition to the Russian origing of this city which was founded by Catalina la Grande in the XVIII century.
In fact Odesa City Hall had pulled out the statue of Catalina la Grande from its location on the street in December 2022.
The inscription was approved with six votes in favour, one against and 14 abstentions.
Bolodymyr Zelenskyy (President of Ukraine), who entered the application in october 2022, thanked the inscription of Odesa in the World Heritage list.
UNESCO already repairing and digitalising Odesa’s heritage
In recent months, in parallel with the process of inscribing the Historic Centre of Odesa on the World Heritage List, UNESCO implemented emergency measures on the ground to help protect the site.
UNESCO has ensured the repairs to damages inflicted on the Odesa Museum of Fine Arts and the Odesa Museum of Modern Art since the beginning of the war. The Organization also provided equipment for the for the digitization of nearly 1,000 works of art and of the documentary collection of the Odesa State Archives. Equipment was also delivered to protect the buildings as well as the open-air works of art.
These measures are part of UNESCO’s overall action plan in Ukraine, which has already mobilized more than $18 million for education, science, culture and information.