On 25 July 2018, amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Protection of Cultural Heritage” (the “Cultural Heritage Amendments”) were enacted, significantly improving the protection of cultural heritage sites in Ukraine. Before adoption of the Cultural Heritage Amendments, Ukrainian legislation did not contain provisions for the protection of the World Heritage Sites as listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and a lack of proper control over construction works has considerably distorted the historical and cultural identity of such sites.
Currently, six Ukrainian cultural heritage sites are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List and include the following:
- Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora, Crimea;
- Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kyiv;
- Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Kyiv;
- The Ensemble of the Historic Centre, Lviv;
- Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, Chernivtsi;
- Struve Geodetic Arc, Khmelnytsky and Odessa Oblasts of Ukraine;
- Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Lviv Oblast, Zakarpattia Oblast of Ukraine.
The Cultural Heritage Amendments require that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee must be notified by the Central Executive Body for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (the “Heritage Protection Service”) prior to any urban, architectural, or landscape transformations (construction works) on the territory of a World Heritage Site. It will also be compulsory to comply with recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee during construction works if such recommendations are provided. Moreover, the Cultural Heritage Amendments provide for:
- setting up a buffer zone around each World Heritage Site;
- establishing a management body and supervisory board for each World Heritage Site and determining its competences; and
- developing a management plan for each World Heritage Site.
Setting up a buffer zone
The Cultural Heritage Amendments require that a buffer zone be included in scientific and project documentation of each World Heritage Site specifying such buffer zone’s boundaries and conditions of its operation. The “Heritage Protection Service will be entitled to approve scientific and project documentation.
Establishing management body and supervisory board for each World Heritage Site and determining its competences
The Heritage Protection Service will establish both a management body and supervisory board for each World Heritage Site.
The management body will develop and submit changes to respective management plans for each World Heritage Site for the Heritage Protection Service’s approval. Furthermore, the body will be entitled to oversee construction works on the territory of a World Heritage Site and inform the Heritage Protection Service of any threats to the site’s outstanding universal value.
The supervisory board of a World Heritage Site will: (1) monitor implementation of the respective management plan; (2) propose amendments to such a plan; (3) recommend measures to preserve the World Heritage Site; etc. The supervisory board’s composition is subject to approval by the Heritage Protection Service.
Developing a management plan
Management of a World Heritage Site will be carried out based on a management plan to be approved by the Heritage Protection Service. The plan shall be reviewed according to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s recommendations or whenever necessary, although not less than once every five years. The management plan will include a definition of the World Heritage Site and its topographical indicators, a description of the site’s buffer zone and a brief description of the site’s outstanding universal value.
Applicability of provisions
The Cultural Heritage Amendments will come into force six months after they were enacted, i.e. on 25 January 2019. Management plans about and/or buffer zones of World Heritage Sites lacking any status prior to the Cultural Heritage Amendments being enacted will be approved by 25 July 2019.
Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Protection of Cultural Heritage’ in relation to the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Monuments included in the UNESCO World Heritage List” No. 2457-VIII dated 19 June 2018.