Nicholas Roerich Estate Museum in Izvara
Nicholas Roerich
Estate Museum
in Izvara
G.A. Astakhov «70th Anniversary of N. Roerich Pact on
Protection of Cultural Heritage. Its History and Significance»
Representative of Russian community of Latvia, Riga

In 2003 before the Iraq crises an international group of workers of culture was formed. It included public figures and lowers from Russia, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Hungary. The group was aimed to learn the opportunity of promoting the Roerich Pact in everyday life.

We think that at present we must face the Pact once more because a number of international legal documents in the sphere of culture do not work. Meanwhile the Roerich Pact proves to be quite simple from legal point of view and it is still in valid because it was never denounced. It may serve as an orienteer to direct a public thought to. What shell we do for that?

To begin with a special group of legal experts should legally estimate the situation on four agreements (Washington – 1935; Hague – 1954; Paris – 1970 and 1972). There is a reason to begin with the countries that signed the Pan-American Treaty. This question may be raised by the leader of a state in any suitable moment implying a certain degree of readiness of the world cultural, political and public circles. A situation with the Latvian intelligentsia which kept silent for a long time was remarkable from some point of view.

In our opinion the Pact should be not only a historic and symbolic document. It should be a working paper which may promote prevention of crises of humanism. Mass media did a lot for drawing the public attention to losses of cultural property in war conflict in Iraq. It is a good moment to direct the public thought to the Pact of Peace and the Banner of Peace. We believe it is necessary to establish the Banner of Peace symbol for all the international treaties aimed to protect culture (here we mean to substitute the sign of the Banner of Peace for the one adopted by the Hague Convention of 1954).

In this article we tried to use the experience of three Baltic States of 1937 when the question provoked by cultural public was solved on the level of foreign minister of the republics. At one of the universities in Budapest an independent legal investigation was held to study the situation with international agreements in the sphere of protection of cultural heritage which do not work. In the course of investigation we found out that Iraq registered only one cultural property lost, so nobody got to know how things really were.

Now I am going to let you know what work based on international communication has been done and conclusions were made of it.

Fallowing the example of N. Roerich’s society in Latvia (G.R. Rudzite) the attempts of the Baltic States to join the Pact in 1937 were made. Some informational support was given and a number of documents were passed to.

On 7th of April 2003 an appeal to general secretary of UNO, director general of UNESCO, Prime-Minister of Iraq, the USA Chairperson at the UNO and the representative of Iraq at the UNO was drew up on behalf of the core group. The document contains fear for the fate of cultural heritage in the Iraqi. The document mentions the Roerich Pact as the only document that could help to solve the Iraqi problem.

On the 12th of September 2003 the working group appealed to UNESCO and to Mr. Bouchenaki with a request to use the Roerich Pact in contemporary life. Earlier a legal expert zing of the problem was offered to a group of international lawers. The aim of the work was to show that the existing system of international agreements is not capable to save international cultural heritage and to underline the advantages of the Roerich Pact as a document useful in peace and war as a universal cultural landmark.

On 5th of October there was an answer received from Mr. Carducci, the chief of the international standards section at Cultural Heritage Department.

The group is working hard to establish contacts with information agencies, museum specialists, public figures of international rank. A book devoted to the history of Roerich Pact will be published, and a film entitled “Banner of Peace” was shown on Latvian TV, some publications in press were made by 15th of April.

On 27th of October a letter to UNESCO was sent that told that Latvia is going to sign the Hague Convention (in Latvia that question was not discussed and this confirms the fact that the public had not been informed, and of course had not been ready to influence the signing of agreements).

On 17th of November the question is going to be discussed at the Executive Committee of the League of Defense of Culture. It is decided to hold a conference dedicated to 70th anniversary of Roerich Pact. It will be held in April in Saint-Petersburg. Mr. Carducci also thanked for the work done and asked for detailed information about the members of the group.



Museum Address: 188414, Izvara Village, Volosovo District, Leningrad Region, Russia.
Phones: +7-813-73-73-273 (group tours); Phone/Fax +7-813-73-73-298 (general)
Museum Director: Cherkasova Olga Anatolievna E-mail: isvara_museum@mail.ru