Ukraine became a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on May 12, 1954. Permanent mission of Ukraine to UNESCO with its headquarters in Paris started operating in December 1962.
Strategic orientation of Ukraine as a member of this international organization is based on the country’s activities aimed at intensifying international cooperation of the Ukrainian scientific, educational and cultural institutions with appropriate UNESCO bodies; strengthening Ukraine’s intellectual potential as well as providing the country’s involvement into the global humanitarian processes directed at maintaining the fundamental principles of humanity.
Recent years have shown active engagement of the Ukrainian institutions into the work of UNESCO global projects that cover such spheres as development of information society, protection of the world information and digital heritage, democratization of the cyberspace, guaranteed sustainability of the world’s development, securing material and non-material cultural heritage in the era of globalization.
As UNESCO member–state Ukraine has been initiating various international programs and projects. Among them those that are aimed at more effective use of communication and information technologies to strengthen world peace, ban war propaganda, violence and ethnic hatred. These efforts resulted in 1978 in the elaboration and adoption of the corresponding Declaration on Fundamental Principles concerning the Contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, apartheid and incitement to war. Besides, that same year Ukraine became the co-author of UNESCO’s Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice. The country has also participated in the projects on enhancing UNESCO’s role in establishing New International Economic Order and spreading the knowledge about Slavik culture in the world.
At the 29th session of UNESCO’s General Conference held in 1997 Ukraine addressed the United Nations with the initiative to announce the International Year of Protection and Preservation of the Cultural Heritage (which having been approved by the 56th United Nations GA session was celebrated as the International Year of the World Cultural Heritage in 2002).
Another Ukrainian contribution into the list of globally important cultural activities is associated with the multinational project that resulted in announcing 2010 the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.
During the years of Ukraine’s full-fledged membership in UNESCO the country has been four times elected a member of the Executive Board - one of two Organization’s governing bodies. It was in 1981-1985, 1995-1999 and 2001-2005. The fourth period of Ukraine’s Executive Board membership which started in November 2013 will last until the end of 2017. The country is going to participate in the work of four Executive Board committees and commissions contributing to the realization of UNESCO 2014-2021 Medium-term Strategy as well as the Organization’s 2014-2017 Program and Budget tasks.
Ukraine is also an active participant of the intergovernmental committees and councils functioning under the auspices of UNESCO. The country’s representatives have been constructively participating in the activities of UNESCO’s International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB), the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Program (IFAP), the Intergovernmental Committee of the World’s Decade for Cultural Development (WDCD), the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation (PRCP) and the Intergovernmental Council of the International Hydrological Program (IHP).
In 2013, for the eighth time since 1989, Ukraine joined the membership of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The country is also a party to the Intergovernmental Copyright Committee. During UNESCO’s 32nd General Conference session in October 2003 Ukraine joined the Council of UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education (IBE) and Intergovernmental Council of the International Program for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the Organization’s Headquarters Committee. Ukraine was also elected to UNESCO’s Executive Board organs, such as Special Committee and the Group of Experts on Financial and Administrative Issues.
Cooperation between Ukraine and UNESCO is fruitfully developing as two parties maintain their regular political dialogue. There have occurred five UNESCO’s Director-General visits to Ukraine. Amadou-Mahtar M’Bou (Senegal) paid the visit to Ukraine in May, 1982. Federico Mayor (Spain) was twice to the country – in April 1991 and November 1997. Koichiro Matsuura (Japan) arrived in the country for a two-day visit in September 2000 and Irina Bokova (Bulgaria) visited Ukraine’s capital, the City of Kyiv, in April 2011 and in April 2014.
50th anniversary of Ukraine’s membership in UNESCO was celebrated on May 12, 2004. The jubilee stamp and 5 hryvnia metal coin were issued.
Ukraine coordinates its activities with UNESCO being driven by the priority goals of this respectful international organization reflected in its five Major Programs on education, science, culture, information and communication.
In education and youth policy spheres Ukraine directs its activities at implementing the Organization’s “Education for All” program priorities, broadening the network of UNESCO associated schools and chairs (the current number of which in the country is 10 and 14, consequently) and realizing the tasks of the International Children’s and Youth Festival “Let’s Change the World for the Better!” annually held in the Crimean “Artek” international children’s center.
In advancing UNESCO nature protection initiatives Ukraine permanently works on inscribing national biosphere reserves into the European biosphere reserves network, contributing to preserve biological diversity, integrity and outstanding universal value of national natural heritage, integral part of the universal ecosystem. Today in Ukraine there are eight biosphere reserves (Askaniya-Nova, Carpathian, Chernomorskiy, Desnianskiy, Dunaiskiy (transboundary with Romania), East Carpathians, Roztochya and West Polesie (transboundary with Belarus and Poland)) certified by UNESCO.
Protection and popularization of national cultural and historical heritage is one of the priority directions in Ukraine-UNESCO format of cooperation. Seven Ukrainian monuments of outstanding cultural and natural value (such as, Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese, Saint Sofia Cathedral and Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Lviv Ensemble of the Historical Center, Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, Struve Geodetic Arc, Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region (transboundary with Poland object) and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians (transboundary with Germany object)) are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In 2013 the first Ukrainian element “Petrykivka Decorative Painting as a Phenomenon of the Ukrainian Ornamental Folk Art” got UNESCO’s safeguarding status by being included into the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This important event has been fixed in the final documents of the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in December 2013 in Baku.
One of the most vivid examples of Ukraine-UNESCO cooperation in the sphere of communication and information technologies is the range of activities undertaken by the International Research and Training Center for Information Technologies and Systems (IRTC) of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Technical and engineering knowledge of the Center’s staff as well as its innovative developments in telematics, informatics, information technologies and computer science are being effectively applied in education, medicine and other spheres of national economy, models that are part of foreign countries’ projects and/or international programs.
In this respect, a word should be said about Ukraine’s International Association of the Academies of Science that in April 2003 was put on the list of those international non-governmental institutions that have UNESCO’s official partnership status.
Since 2001 Ukraine has become part of UNESCO’s Participation Program each biannual cycle of which opens favorable opportunities for the national institutions to realize their scientific projects directly related to the activities of the Organization.
For several decades Ukraine has also been part of one of the most famous UNESCO’s cultural projects “Calendar of Anniversaries” with which the Organization has been associating its activities starting from 1956. Thus, since 1990-1991 biennial commemoration cycle that corresponded to the year of proclamation of Ukraine’s independence in 1991 the country has been regularly represented in the Calendar reveling the names of outstanding Ukrainian personalities (writers, poets, composers, scientists, philosophers and politicians) or remarkable historic events that happened at the Ukrainian terrain to the whole world. Today their general number exceeds thirty units leaving commemorative Ukrainian trace in the global humanitarian history. The closest event on UNESCO Calendar important for Ukraine is 200th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko’s birth, one of the greatest national poets, artists and thinkers whose jubilee is to be commemorated on March 9, 2014.
During the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee (June 17-27, 2013, Phnom Penh, Cambodia) two new Ukrainian cultural objects i.e. “Ancient city of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora” (5th century BC – 14th century AD) and “Wooden Churches of the Carpathian region of Ukraine and Poland” (joint Ukrainian-Polish nomination including 16 churches – 8 ones of Ukraine and Poland) were inscribed on the World Heritage List.
From November 5 to November 20, 2013 the 37th session of UNESCO General Conference was held in Paris.
The main achievement of Ukraine at the 37th session of UNESCO General Conference was the election of our country to UNESCO Executive Board (the second governing body of the Organization) for the period of 2013-2017.
On December, 2-7, 2013 during the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of State Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was held in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Ukrainian element “Petrykivskyi painting – the Ukrainian decorative and ornamental painting of 19-21 centuries” was included into the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
On April 15, 2014, in the framework of the 194th session of UNESCO Executive Board (April 5-15, 2014, Paris, France), the overwhelming majority of UNESCO Executive Board’s Member States adopted the Resolution “Follow-up by UNESCO of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)”, introduced by Ukraine, expressing deep concern about the increasing Russian militarization on the peninsula, that poses a threat to the continuity of the educational process, the protection of freedom of speech and the preservation of cultural heritage.
Having taken the information provided by the Ukrainian delegation into account, UNESCO Executive Board’s Member States urged the Director-General to exercise the regular strict monitoring of the situation in Crimea in the areas of competence of UNESCO and to present the Director-General’s report on the monitoring results at the 195th session of the Executive Board of UNESCO.
On April 22, 2014 Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova paid a working visit to Kyiv.
During her visit Irina Bokova had meetings with the Prime-Minister of Ukraine, Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister and the Head of Ukraine’s National Commission for UNESCO. The parties discussed the present state and prospects of Ukraine-UNESCO cooperation paying special attention to this international Organization’s major programs, priority directions, new challenges and threats that have particularly appeared as a result of Crimea annexation by the Russian Federation.
Tools of actions aimed at conserving and protecting the Ukrainian cultural, natural and scientific heritage situated in Crimea that has been occupied by the Russian Federation were discussed. The issues of the ways of providing the guaranties for stable functioning of the Crimean educational and research institutions as well as proper implementing of the main provisions of UNESCO’s Resolution on the Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (of April 15, 2014) also were discussed.
A range of important talks was conducted by Director-General of UNESCO at the National Academy of Sciences. There Irina Bokova met President of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Borys Paton, Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Serhiy Kvit, Minister of Culture of Ukraine Yevgen Nyschuk and President of National Olympic Committee of Ukraine Serhiy Bubka.
During the formal meeting at the Presidium of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Irina Bokova was awarded with the silver medal of the Ukrainian NAS for her contribution into the development of science.
Within the program of her visit to Ukraine Irina Bokova also took part in the ceremony of jubilee stamp cancellation. The stamp was specially produced on the occasion of Ukraine’s 60-year membership in UNESCO.
The 195th session of UNESCO Executive Board worked on October 15-31, 2014. During the latest plenary session the Board adopted draft resolutions, approved earlier by its subsidiary commissions.
Thus, resolution “Follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)”, examined by the Commission on Program and External Relations on October 23 was finally approved by UNESCO Executive Board.
While defending the Ukrainian draft in the framework of the Commission, Head of the Delegation of Ukraine, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Sergiy Kyslytsya emphasized the significance of the resolution, based on the fundamental principles of international law. The Head of Delegation of Ukraine expressed confidence that the approval of this document would have a long-lasting impact on the future of UNESCO.
A member of the official delegation of Ukraine, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, Mr. Refat Chubarov drew the attention of UNESCO Member States to numerous human rights violations on the peninsula, particularly in the areas of education, culture, religion and freedom of expression, as well as oppression of the indigenous peoples of Crimea.
UNESCO in its above mentioned resolution “Follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)” confirmed its commitment to the principles of respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
On March 24, 2015 the 16th meeting of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO under the chairmanship of Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya took place in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
The members of the National Commission discussed the agenda of the meeting, particularly the issues regarding the provisions of the National Commission’s Plan of operation for 2015; the state of the preparation of Ukraine’s delegation for the participation in the 196th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board (April, 8-22, 2015); the implementation of the Resolutions “Follow-up by UNESCO of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)” adopted in 2014 at the 194th and 195th sessions of UNESCO’s Executive Board; the state of conservation of the Ukrainian World Heritage objects located on the temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol; the presentation of the applications to the Memory of the World Register; the preparation for celebrating the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO in Ukraine; the analysis of the actual state of the National Commission’s sector activity; the renewal of the edition of the Informational Bulletin of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO in its on-line version; the approval of the Procedure of granting the patronage of the National Commission.
On June 16, 2015 the 17th conference of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO took place in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in the format Meeting of the Heads of the thematic sectors i.e. culture and cultural heritage; education; science; natural heritage; youth policy; information and communication.
The conference eventuated under the chairmanship of First Deputy Minister for Culture of Ukraine, Deputy Head of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO – Head of sector of culture and cultural heritage Mr. Igor Likhovyy.
The members of the National Commission discussed the agenda of the conference, particularly the issues regarding the accomplishment of the points of the National Commission’s Plan of operation for 2015 and moving the changes in it; the state of the preparation of Ukraine’s delegation for the participation in the 39th session of the World Heritage Commission (June, 28 – July, 8, 2015, Bonn, Germany), thematic filling of the second issue of Informational Bulletin of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO.
On June 24, 2015, the elections of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO (Paris, France) took place. Ukraine was re-elected to the Executive Board of Commission II of the East European electoral group.
Since June 28, 2015 till July 8, 2015 the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO was held in Bonn (Germany).
According to the decisions adopted at the session, the World Heritage List was enlarged by 24 new facilities - 23 cultural and one mixed (combining cultural and natural value).
The participants of the session also revised the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972) which was amended and supplemented.
Within the item “State of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List” of the 39th WHC session agenda the balanced decisions on three Ukrainian UNESCO World Heritage facilities, such as “Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra”, “L’viv – the Ensemble of the Historic Centre” and the Ukrainian part of the transboundary Ukrainian-Slovak-German facility “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany”, were resolved.
The 19th meeting of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO took place on February 25, 2016 in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
The members of the National Commission discussed particularly the execution of the National Commission’s Plan of operation for 2015 and the approval of the Plan of operation for 2016; the preparation of Ukraine’s delegation for the participation in work of UNESCO’s leading and conventional organs; the state of conservation of the Ukrainian World Heritage objects located on the temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and also the state of conservation of the monuments of history and culture located on the territory of the Russian Federation and referring to the Ukrainian folk; the presentation of the applications for UNESCO 2016-2017 Participation Programme and for the Memory of the World Register; thematic filling of the fourth issue of Informational Bulletin of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO.
On April 11, 2016, within the framework of the 199th session of the UNESCO, the Programme and External Relations Commission of the UNESCO Executive Board has considered the report by the Director-General and adopted the decision "Follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)".
The report 199 EX/5 Part I (E) contains the facts of fragrant violations of human and national minorities rights, first of all of the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians, within the fields of UNESCO competence. Basing on these facts, the conclusion on serious deterioration of the situation in the territory of the peninsula temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation was drawn.
Adopted by vast majority of votes (17 in favor, 5 against) the document «Follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)» became the fifth decision of the Executive Board on this matter since the illegal occupation of Crimea.
The decision envisages the report by the Director-General to be presented at the 200th session of the Executive Board on the implementation of the previous relevant decisions, in particular with regard to the establishment by the Secretariat of UNESCO of the monitoring mechanism at the institutional level in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
The delegations of the USA, the EU and Turkey expressed their support to Ukraine in their statements made at the outcome of the voting. The speakers reiterated commitment to the UN General Assembly resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014 «Territorial integrity of Ukraine».
On the initiative of the Secretariat of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO a meeting of the Heads of UNESCO Chairs in Ukraine took place in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on June 15, 2016.
The heads and the representatives of UNESCO Chairs from the highest educational establishments of different cities of Ukraine in particular Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Severodonetsk took part in the meeting.
The participants discussed the current state and further perspectives of the functioning of UNESCO Chairs in Ukraine including problematic issues of their functioning and ways and means of their solving in the framework of UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme at the national level.
One of the results of the meeting was the establishment of the Coordinative Council of UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme in Ukraine headed by the member of the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO, Head of UNESCO Chair on Human Rights, Peace and Democracy, Tolerance and International Understanding of National University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy, Yuriy Svatko.
On July, 20, 2016 the 40th session of UNESCO World Heritage Committee ended its work in Istanbul (Turkey).
According to the adopted decision 21 new objects – 12 cultural, 6 natural and 3 mixed (of cultural and natural value simultaneously) – were included into the World Heritage List.
The session adopted the decisions on two Ukrainian UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as “Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra” and “Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora”.
The decision regarding the site “Kyiv: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra” includes the range of recommendations on the conservation of the site, in particular the invitation of the reactive monitoring mission of UNESCO World Heritage Center.
The decision on the Ukrainian site “Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora” contains the reference to the decision of UNESCO Executive Board "Monitoring of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)”, and presupposes the invitation, as soon as the situation allows, the reactive monitoring mission of UNESCO World Heritage Center to assess the state of conservation of the site located on the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimean peninsula.
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