The resignation of a Russian ambassador unblocks the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Russia, by ending the functions of its ambassador to UNESCO on Tuesday, allowed the release of the World Heritage Committee which he chaired, a central body for the preservation of world cultural and natural sites, we learned. Wednesday from a diplomatic source. “I have the honor to inform you of the end of my mission as permanent delegate of the Russian Federation to Unesco,” Russian Ambassador Alexander Kuznetsov said on Tuesday in a letter addressed to the members of the committee, of which the AFP had a copy.

“I am, as of the date of this letter, unable to continue my mandate as Chair of the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee,” he continued.

A meeting initially planned in Russia

The fact that Russia chairs the World Heritage Committee had resulted in the blocking of this important cog of UNESCO after the invasion of Ukraine by Moscow. A session of this committee scheduled for June 2022 in Kazan (Russia), enacted smoothly a year earlier, had notably provoked an outcry in the spring.

On April 8, 46 countries, including France and Great Britain, had warned that they would boycott the event if it was kept on Russian soil or if it remained chaired by Russia. The Kazan meeting was to make it possible, as every year, to update the list of sites, landscapes, monuments and cities listed as world heritage.

Mediation had been set up by Unesco to find a way out. “This mediation by the general management of Unesco is today having a positive outcome. The resignation of the permanent delegate of Russia will make it possible to quickly appoint a new president” and to relaunch the heritage committee, indicated a UN diplomat.

When a chairman of the committee resigns, UNESCO regulations provide that his replacement be appointed by the country following in alphabetical order in English. After Russia, Saudi Arabia will therefore be the country that will have to appoint a successor to the chairmanship of the committee.

Ryad will say in the next few days if he accepts this task and who he will appoint. An extraordinary meeting should take place in the following weeks during which the date and place of the next “ordinary session” will be fixed, which “could be held in the first half of 2023”, we learned from Unesco. .

Read also: The destruction of cultural sites in Ukraine, seen from the sky

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