International Council of Museums Europe Alliance

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February 23, 2023

Statement One year after Russia’s declaration of war on Ukraine Network, Statement

ICOM Europe reiterates its strong condemnation of the Russian aggression and its full solidarity with its colleagues in Ukrainian museums.

After a year of murderous war and extensive destruction of Ukrainian heritage, ICOM Europe board wishes to express again today its strong condemnation of Russia and its full solidarity with Ukraine and museum professionals in Ukraine.

Museums, cultural institutions, cultural heritage and memorial sites are targeted by Russia to destroy Ukrainian culture and identity. This starkly contradicts the 1954 Hague Convention (and its protocols) on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflicts.

ICOM is a non-governmental organisation of museum professionals. It was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War to ensure that museums – which are responsible for preserving and transmitting heritage – are protected and used in the service of peace. ICOM members in conflict zones, wherever the conflict may be, need ICOM, and we believe that it is the very purpose of ICOM to protect them.

Concretely, ICOM Europe will meet – virtually – on March 6, the Ukrainian national committee of ICOM to express and update their most urgent needs. The 19 national committees and institutions that had signed a joint project to initiate a process of assistance for the restoration and protection of damaged or threatened heritage will be gathered around colleagues from Ukraine. The elements resulting from this working meeting will be brought to the attention of all ICOM National Committees so that they can mobilize their networks.

ICOM is proud to have a code of ethics binding on all its members. Any member who does not respect professional ethics must be sanctioned. Members who have violated the ICOM Code of Ethics as well as the international conventions related to the protection of heritage in armed conflicts, as it seems to be the case in the current war of Russia against Ukraine, must be sanctioned and their membership revoked.

We call on the Executive Board of ICOM and on ICOM President – to issue today a clear message and agreed on guidelines that once again firmly reiterate the values of our organization, its rules and the international conventions and obligations that are binding on its members.