Hogan Lovells advises Odesa Fine Arts Museum and other cultural institutions on protecting Ukraine’s heritage and avenues for legal redress for war crimes.

1 November 2022 – Hogan Lovells, in partnership with Kyiv Law Firm Robinson Patman, and Counsel from 39 Essex Chambers, Nyasha Weinberg, submitted representations to the UN Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights as part of our continuing to provide pro bono advice and financial support to the Odesa Fine Arts Museum (OFAM). 

This advice, which also extends to galleries and collections across the Odesa region, focuses on the protection of Ukrainian cultural property and threats to the existence to Ukraine’s national identity. The OFAM hosts over 10,000 artworks, including those of high cultural significance to Ukraine. At an early stage of the invasion, Deputy Director, OFAM Oleksandra Kovalchuk showed stoic professionalism in seeking funding to protect the original works of Pushkin and Paustovsky from Russian missile attacks.  

Since then, UNESCO reports that more than 300 churches, museums, and monuments have been damaged or destroyed. Hogan Lovells has provided extensive pro bono legal advice to Odesa regional museums and galleries on cultural heritage protection and the remedies available under international law. 

Earlier this year, Hogan Lovells provided emergency funding for protection for the OFAM and the Odesa Museum of Modern Art, which hosts important Ukrainian artworks by Sonia Delone, Michael Zhuk, Egorov, Atsmanchuk, Roytburd, Savadov, Kovalenko, Gegamyan.  The firm also engaged its network to source emergency European funding for other collections.

A Hogan Lovells team including Scott Macpherson (Senior Associate London), Mykhailo Ieremenko Associate, Munich), Detlef Haas (Partner, Munich), Markus Burgstaller (Partner, London) and Yasmin Waljee OBE (Partner) have been advising the Odesa Fine Arts Museum on avenues for legal redress and accountability.  This includes documenting evidence from Museum workers, and supporting war crimes investigations locally through securing expert evidence from [investigations consultancy FTI]. This has culminated in submission of a Report to the UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights and the ICC. 

Oleksandra Kovalchuk, Director of the Odesa Fine Arts Museum commented: “There are so many artworks that have been stolen, relocated or destroyed. We’re very focussed on protecting what we have to preserve our heritage and it is so important to have international partners such as Hogan Lovells, Robinson Patman helping us. We continue to need funds to support, particularly the Museum workers who selflessly remain in Ukraine to ensure our cultural heritage prevails.”

Nadiia Dmytrenko, Head of Pro Bono Practice and Partner at Robinson Patman, commented: “Ukrainian culture is an integral part of us – Ukrainians. Every Ukrainian can name several artists, writers that we are an integral part of our identity. The hardest part of our work with the museums was to face and realize the damage done (destruction of the beautiful old buildings and damaged books, paintings, sculptures – anything related to our culture and history). Joining efforts with Hogan Lovells team and OFAM allowed us to assist and help another cultural institutions in Ukraine that were suffered by the shelling”.

Yasmin Waljee, International Pro Bono Partner at Hogan Lovells, commented: “As well as the tragic impact on the people of Ukraine of the war, we are aware of the implications for the cultural identity of the people of Ukraine, which is protected under the Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. This includes threats to historic records, rare art, and manuscripts of Ukrainian authors, which all face threats from the ongoing war with Russia and provide evidence of the intentional destruction of Ukraine’s cultural identity.”

Click here to watch our documentary trailer which sheds a light on the battle for Ukraine’s cultural heritage, as part of the OFAM fundraising campaign: Dreams and Hopes: The Battle for Ukraine's Cultural Heritage - YouTube.

The film is being developed by Crux Jinx Productions with Director Dave Moutray and Producer Josh Rickert, with a contribution of funding from Hogan Lovells to support the campaign to raise funds and awareness for OFAM. 

Dave Moutray, Director of “Dreams and Hopes: Ukraine’s Fight to Save Their Cultural Heritage” commented: “Oleksandra, seeing her country’s art and culture as ‘dreams and hopes’, has united museum workers and organised an incredible international endeavour to save all the art she can, all while her country is under siege. The time to help is now. The time to tell their story is now.”


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