Russia resigns as chair of UNESCO Heritage Committee after paralysis over Ukraine invasion

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Archive – Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin, seat of the Russian Presidency, near Red Square in Moscow. – SEAMAS CULLIGAN / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

Russia has resigned as chair of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee after the agency postponed a forum indefinitely in the wake of the military offensive on Ukraine.

Russia has held the chairmanship of the committee since the summer of 2021, which under normal circumstances would have allowed it to host a meeting that it had already proposed to hold in the city of Kazan. In April, UNESCO acknowledged that the forum was postponed «indefinitely».

A new session is scheduled to be held before the end of the year to elect the new chair of the group that decides which monuments or sites are added to the organization’s official list of World Heritage Sites, according to the German delegation.

UNESCO denounced after the outbreak of the conflict the effects of the fighting on sites of interest, although it has no record that any of the officially protected enclaves have been bombed. In October, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requested that the historic center of Odessa be added to the list.