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Russia has been ousted from the UNESCO Executive Board

The aggressor country was not elected to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for the first time during a November 15, 2023, vote.

“The era of Russian influence is over, and rightly so: Russian terrorists have no place at the head of significant international bodies. Russia’s international role will only continue to weaken,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed this decision.

The Executive Board consists of 58 representatives of UNESCO member states, elected on a quota basis, with quotas allocated for each region. In the electoral group II (Eastern European States), which Russia is a part of, Serbia (137 votes), Albania (134), Slovakia (117), and Czechia (99) were elected. In particular, the Russian Federation was a member of the UNESCO Executive Board for 2021-2023.

The Executive Board reviews and submits to the General Conference, the highest body of UNESCO, projects for biennial programs and medium-term strategic priorities of the Organization, as well as determines measures for the effective implementation of approved programs and budgets.

Among other responsibilities of the Executive Board are the preparation of the agenda for the General Conference, submitting recommendations for the admission of new members to the Organization, and establishing associated relations with new partners.

The 42nd session of the General Conference of UNESCO. November 13, 2023.
Photo: Christelle Alix / UNESCO

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops have been regularly targeting the objects of Ukrainian cultural heritage, causing damage and destruction to them.

For instance, on November 6, 2023, Russian forces launched a missile strike on Odesa, hitting the Odesa National Fine Arts Museum, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and nearby buildings. Due to the enemy attack, the walls of the architectural monument were defaced, with some windows and glass broken. Seven exhibitions featuring works by contemporary artists were also affected.

In total, from February 2022 to October 2023, Russia has either destroyed or damaged 835 objects of cultural heritage in Ukraine, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine reported.