Defending cultural and natural heritage is a fundamental task of human consciousness. Notwithstanding, not so many people know what is the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and very few are aware that this come from a noble ancestor, that is the ROERICH PACT.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
Long before, in 1929 Roerich in collaboration with Paris University professor G.G. Shklyaver prepared a draft of an international treaty dedicated to protection of cultural values. The scheme was to be a cultural analog to the Red Cross for medical neutrality.
Roerich was already known because of his talent as a painter, and a writer about the mission of knowledge he carried on all along Himalaya. The project appeal to governments and peoples of all countries; it was published in press and distributed in scientific, artistic and educational institutions of the whole world.
The draft pact was approved by Committee for Museum affairs at League of Nations and also by the Committee of the Pan-American Union. Finally, the Pact was signed by 21 states in the Americas and was ratified by ten of them.
In the aftermath of World War II, the Roerich Pact played an important role in forming of international law standards and public activity in the field of protection of cultural heritage.
It was in 1949, at the fourth UNESCO General Conference, that the continuity between the Roerich Pact and the UNESCO’s activities was defined. Then, a decision was accepted to begin the work for international law regulation in the field of cultural heritage protection in case of armed conflict.
There’s still a lot to do. The burning Amazon, the climate change, the pollution of atmosphere and the waters around the planet are signs.
We should work with schools and cultural institution to generate awareness about this.
UNESCO World Heritage List, inspired by the Roerich PAct, aims to:
Encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
Encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
Encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
Help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
Provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
Support States Parties’ public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
Encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
Encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world’s cultural and natural heritage.