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Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic with UNESCO

UNESCO Governing Bodies

UNESCO’s main bodies are the General Conference (https://www.unesco.org/en/general-conference) and Executive Board (https://www.unesco.org/en/executive-board). The organisation’s executive and support body, the UNESCO Secretariat headed by Director-General Audrey Azoulay from France, is in charge of executing the Executive Board’s decisions and resolutions of the General Conference.

A National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO is established in each member country under the UNESCO Constitution. The Czech Commission for UNESCO is an advisory body to the Government of the Czech Republic on UNESCO matters. For more information go to https://www.mzv.cz/jnp/en/foreign_relations/international_organisations/unesco_united_nations_educational/index.html. The Czech Republic is represented at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in the form of the Permanent Delegation of the Czech Republic to UNESCO, attached to the Czech Embassy in France, which brokers contacts between the organisation and specific ministries; for more information go to: https://www.mzv.cz/jnp/en/foreign_relations/international_organisations/unesco_united_nations_educational/permanent_delegation_of_the_czech/index.html.  

World Cultural and Natural Heritage

The ‘flagship’ of the Ministry of Culture's cooperation with UNESCO in cultural matters is the agenda of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which established the World Heritage List, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/ .

The Czech Republic has 16 World Heritage Sites on the List. For detailed information go to https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/?search=czechia&order=country

Other sites of importance that could be proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List figure in the so-called Indicative List, which must be maintained by each country. The Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the National Heritage Institute, is negotiating the inscription of sites on the list; for more information go to: http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/state=cz.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Czech Republic is also a party to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, with 7 elements on the prestigious Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; for details go to: https://ich.unesco.org/en/state/czechia-CZ?info=elements-on-the-lists. In addition to the Representative List, the 2003 Convention also established the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices. For details on the lists go to: https://ich.unesco.org/en/purpose-of-the-lists-00807

In September 2020, the Czech Republic was elected to serve a four-year term as a member of the Convention’s Governing Body – the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Prohibition and Prevention of the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

Yet another very important UNESCO Convention is the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Convention is a major worldwide instrument regulating a problem that has long outgrown the borders of Europe, namely the illicit trade in movable cultural heritage. For details see: https://en.unesco.org/fighttrafficking/1970

Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

In times of peace, the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocol and Protocol II tend to be neglected. The Ministry of Culture has a vested interest in this Convention, and its partners in implementing the Convention include the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the latter being a custodian of this set of treaty instruments.  For details go to: https://en.unesco.org/protecting-heritage/convention-and-protocols/1954-convention

In December 2019, the Czech Republic was elected to serve a second four-year term as a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. In December 2018, the Committee decided to afford enhanced protection under Article 10 of Protocol II to the first monument located in the territory of the Czech Republic. Villa Tugendhat was added to the list of monuments under enhanced protection, which had until then only included 13 cultural properties from eight countries.

Diversity of cultural expressions

The international community represented at UNESCO has recognised the danger of uniformity of cultural expressions brought about by globalisation. Therefore, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted in 2005, https://en.unesco.org/creativity/convention/about

Memory of the World and documentary heritage

Speaking of UNESCO cooperation in cultural matters, the participation of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Culture in the Memory of the World programme also needs to be mentioned here; for details go to https://en.unesco.org/programme/mow; for information on the elements the Czech Republic has contributed to the international Memory of the World register see: https://webarchive.unesco.org/20220331144744/http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/memory-of-the-world/register/access-by-region-and-country/cz

Creative Cities Network

Established in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network promotes cooperation between cities that view creativity as one of the crucial factors in sustainable development. The cities must excel in one of the following seven areas: Craft and Folk Arts; Design; Film; Gastronomy; Literature; Music or Media (Media Arts). It may be seen as a huge accomplishment that the following Czech cities have been awarded the prestigious title: Prague as Creative City of Literature (in 2014) and Brno as Creative City of Music (in 2017).  For details on the UNESCO Creative Cities Network go to: http://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/

World anniversaries under the auspices of UNESCO

The world anniversaries of important personages or events in world culture, science and education regularly announced by UNESCO are very popular in the Czech Republic. For example, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884) has recently been added to the 2022/2023 calendar of world anniversaries. For details on world anniversaries go to: http://en.unesco.org/celebrations/anniversaries