The resignation of the Russian ambassador to UNESCO is expected to end the deadlock in a key group he chaired that is charged with preserving cultural sites around the world, a diplomatic source told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, responsible for adding properties to the UN body’s list of world heritage sites, had been unable to function for months after the international backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I have the honor to inform you of the end of my mission as permanent delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO,” Russian Ambassador to UNESCO Alexander Kuznetsov on Tuesday said in a letter to the members of the committee obtained by AFP.
The resignation would allow the committee to “quickly appoint a new president” and resume its activities, a UN diplomat said.
Russia’s position as chair of the committee had sparked an outcry among other members following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
The committee had been due to meet in June in the Russian city of Kazan, but 46 states, including France and the UK, boycotted the event.
The meeting was supposed to update the landscapes, monuments and cities included in the body’s list of heritage sites.
UNESCO regulations stipulate that replacements for a resigning committee chair are to be appointed by the country that follows in alphabetical order in English.
Saudi Arabia, which is next in line after Russia, is expected to in the coming days announce whether it will take over the chair of the committee.
UNESCO said an extraordinary meeting would be held in the following weeks to determine the date and place of its next ordinary session, expected in the first half of next year.
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