Cultural Heritage Crime” – the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine conference

HomepageCultural Heritage Crime – the EU Advisory Mission Ukraine conference

On 18–19, May 2023 representatives of Europa Nostra and Europa Nostra Heritage Hub for Central and Eastern Europe in Kraków participated in a high-profile international conference, “Cultural Heritage Crime: In Wartime and Beyond”. The conference was organised by The European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine in Lviv. The event aimed to develop models of cooperation between Ukrainian and international partners in investigating and prosecuting crimes committed against the cultural heritage of Ukraine, in the context of Russia’s unprovoked aggression.

The conference brought together renowned international experts on cultural property protection and representatives from the Ukrainian and European Union state authorities, law enforcement and rule of law agencies as well as museums and cultural institutions. Jointly they discussed the best models of cooperation in recovering the losses inflicted by the Russian aggression on the cultural heritage objects of Ukraine and investigating respective crimes. In this context, participants considered the legal framework, operational approaches and international and local response to cultural heritage crime, highlighting the importance of cooperation, coordinated efforts and information exchange at national and international levels. The conference covered, among others, topics:

  • the EU strategic approach towards cultural heritage in conflicts and crisis;
  • war crimes against cultural heritage (legal concept, impact and dimensions);
  • International Criminal Court (ICC) experience in investigating and prosecuting crimes against cultural heritage in Mali;
  • work of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) on cultural heritage;
  • experience of the Italian Carabinieri and Austrian Police in the cultural heritage protection.

The conference served as a kick-off event intended to provide an impetus for future joint EUAM project activities to strengthen the protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage through advisory support and facilitation of interagency and international coordination and information exchange. Based on the event outcomes, EUAM Ukraine will prepare recommendations to facilitate fruitful engagement between the Ukrainian and European experts and agencies.

High-level representatives from the Ukrainian Government, the Parliament, security and judicial authorities attended the conference, as well as participants from the EU, World Customs Organisation, International Criminal Court, UNESCO, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Interpol, and the EU Member States police services. Dr. Joanna Dziadowiec-Greganić participated in the event on behalf of Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Kraków. Together with Antigoni Michael (7 Most Endangered Coordinator, Europa Nostra), they represented European Commission services in charge of culture: Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), and European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

EUAM Ukraine supports Ukraine in the investigation of international crimes committed in the context of Russia’s aggression, which includes both war crimes and crimes against cultural heritage.

It is worth noting that this month the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill removing the protected status of Soviet and imperial cultural monuments. From now on, the Ukrainian State will have legal grounds to strike symbols of Russian and Soviet imperialism from the register of protected historical structures. The following types of monuments will not be considered a part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage:

  • those dedicated to people who held leadership positions in the Communist Party;
  • those dedicated to leaders who held high offices in the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, or other autonomous Soviet republics;
  • those devoted to events related to the Communist Party’s activities and the establishment of Soviet power on the territory of Ukraine;
  • those that symbolise Russian imperial or Soviet totalitarian policy.