Violations of cultural rights in Russia-Ukraine war to impede post-war healing, warns UN expert
The questioning of the Ukrainian identity and history as a justification for the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war violates Ukrainians' right to self-determination and it will have devastating effects in the post-war era, a UN expert said Wednesday.
"As in other conflicts, we currently witness the unfolding of suffering in Ukraine that does not seem to end, and we cannot stop," Alexandra Xanthaki, the special rapporteur on cultural rights, said in a statement.
The considerable loss of cultural heritage and destruction of cultural artifacts was worrying for the identity of both Ukrainians and minorities within Ukraine, she added.
"Beyond recalling that the rules of international humanitarian and human rights law should be scrupulously applied by all parties to the conflict, we must ensure that culture helps us maintain our dignity and is not used as a means to pursue and fuel the war," she said.
Xanthaki expressed her concern over the damage to city centers, cultural sites, monuments, and museums housing important collections.
"These are all part of the identity of people in Ukraine; their loss will have a lasting effect," the expert said.
The special rapporteur also expressed her regret about the indiscriminate exclusion of Russian artists from cultural events.
"I am saddened by the numerous restrictions affecting Russian artists in retaliation for the actions of the Russian Government, as well as by the deprogramming of sometimes centuries-old works of art from Russian writers or composers," Xanthaki said.