At the very moment a new international consensus was being reached affirming culture as a ‘global public good’, the Russian president was railing against ‘Satanic’ culture in a ‘deranged’ speech annexing Ukrainian territory by force.

The historic ‘Declaration for Culture’, adopted unanimously by 150 UNESCO Member States, was followed by a statement by 55 States calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine. When Russia responded, there was a mass exodus by the gathered delegates, including Australia, captured here by the UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights

It’s the starkest of contrasts, reflecting the circumstances of UNESCO’s foundation: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation was established in 1945 because ‘to achieve lasting peace, economic and political agreements among States are not enough. We must bring people together and strengthen the intellectual and moral solidarity of humankind, through mutual understanding and dialogue between cultures’…

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