Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) recalls the role of museums, culture, and international cooperation in building lasting peace among nations.
On 24th February, ICOM condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has demanded that all parties respect of the international conventions for the protection of heritage and museums in times of conflict. As we continue our work to assist our Ukrainian colleagues in securing their safety, and that of their museums and collections, we wish to express our gratitude to the international museum community, who has shown an outpouring of support to Ukraine, and our solidarity with Russian citizens who are raising their concerns, often at great personal risk.
ICOM was born in 1946, at a time in which calls for pacifism and unity gave birth to many international organisations with the aim of building a lasting peace amongst nations in the aftermath of World War II. The conflict was over, but reconciliation was still a long way ahead. The founding Members of our organisation understood that museums and culture have a pivotal role to play in building a common ground for mutual understanding and dialogue. These ideals that they instilled in ICOM remain core values we defend to this day.
“1. We believe that it is of the greatest importance for every nation that the knowledge of the cultures of the various countries forming part of one world should be made more widely known; 2. By these means there will be a broader ground of mutual understanding, for through exchange of cultural knowledge there is a common ground for peace;” – 1st ICOM General Assembly, Mexico City, November 8, 1947
In the face of terror and tragedy, we must choose unity and solidarity. As we have done in the past, ICOM and the global museum community join the efforts to protect heritage, keep cultural relations alive between the museum communities of different nations, and advocate for culture as a means in building lasting peace, in Ukraine as well as in all other nations across the globe.