On 6 April, an exchange of the updated information was organized between UNESCO Secretariat and the permanent delegations within the framework of the 10th Information Meeting on the Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol (Ukraine). Despite the temporary suspention of the conference activities at the UNESCO Headquarters as part of restrictive measures aimed at preventing the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and due to the efforts of Ukraine the event was held online through an interactive participation of all representatives of the Member States.
On behalf of the Assistant Director-General for Priority Africa and External Relations F.E.Matoko UNESCO Secretariat distributed among the delegations the reports of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, ICOMOS and Amnesty International, focused on the human rights violations in Crimea for the period since the previous Information Meeting, which was held in September 2019. The reports capture specific facts of ongoing violations of human rights, oppression of national minorities, freedom of the press, security of journalists, obstacles to access to education in their native language, etc.
In response, Permanent Delegate of Ukraine to UNESCO, H.E.Ambassador of Ukraine to France Oleg Shamshur presented a statement with the up-to-date information on violations of human rights and UNESCO conventions in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as the analysis of the main tendencies of the illegal acts of the occupying authorities in the field of competence of the Organizaton. The statement, in particular, noted the growing degradation of the situation on the peninsula and stressed the importance of the efforts of UNESCO Secretariat to ensure a direct monitoring of the situation in Crimea. It was also highlighted that Ukraine was ready to intensify a collaboration with the Secretariat and the Member States with a view to implementing the relevant decisions of the UNESCO Executive Board.
In addition, a joint statement of the UNESCO Member States in support of Ukraine's position on Crimea was circulated in the frames of the online platform of the Information Meeting. The document outlined the continued implementation efforts by the Director-General and the importance of the first phase of direct monitoring, launched last year by holding meetings in Kyiv to discuss the situation in the science sector, as well as in the communication and information, freedom of expression sector, which includes the safety of journalists. The statement called UNESCO Secretariat to pursue the direct monitoring in the remaining sectors within its spheres of competence that would pave the way for the second phase of direct monitoring. Despite the complexity of the preparation for the event, the level of support of the joint statement increased up to 33 countries, including Switzerland which joined the statement for the first time.
Thus, the results of the Information Meeting confirmed the maintenance of the issues of the temporarily occupied Crimea in the list of key priorities of UNESCO's activity and the further increase of support by the States Member of the Organization. The event ensured the maximum coverage of the Member States' delegations, that contributed to creating an appropriate information base to keep Crimean issues at the forefront of UNESCO community. All of this is especially important in the context of enhancing international support to Ukraine during the consideration of the following decision of the Executive Board on the monitoring of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, scheduled for October this year.