Exhibition and Lectures: "The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity", Peace Palace Library, April 15-16, 2014

presents exhibition project “The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity” in The Hague. In 2015 there will be 80 years since the day of signing of the international Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historical Monuments, which came to be known as the Roerich Pact. On the eve of this anniversary the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR) in cooperation with the International Roerichs' Heritage Preservation Committee is working on the international exhibition project dedicated to this event.

The Netherlands will be the next phase of this extensive project. On April 15, 2014 the exhibition called “The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity” opens in the Peace Palace located in the important administrative and international centre of this country, The Hague. The exhibition is organized with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and with the direct involvement of Jeroen Vervliet, Director of Peace Palace Library, one of the biggest book depositories on the international public law. The fact that the exhibition takes place in the Peace Palace is highly symbolic, because the idea of its creation was born at the First Peace Conference for disarmament, called at the initiative of Emperor Nicholas II in 1898.

The exhibition will present materials on the history of the Roerich Pact, unique photographs, reproductions of Roerich's paintings, and documents illustrating the implementation of the initiative of the great Russian humanist Nicholas Roerich who managed to unite the world community of his time and create an international movement for the preservation of cultural heritage for future generations. The exhibition will be accompanied by an interesting cultural programme. It will include lectures, film screenings and presentation of a new ICR film “The Call of Cosmic Evolution”. 

Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947)

Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947)

The outstanding Russian artist, scholar, thinker, public figure and peacemaker Nicholas Roerich made an enormous contribution to the development of world culture. Drafting and signing of the international Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historical Monuments that laid foundation for the system of international law in the field of cultural heritage preservation became one of his major achievements. The first conferences in support of the Roerich Pact in 1931 and 1932 in Bruges were a great success and were actively responded to by prominent politicians as well as culture, science and public figures. The Roerich Pact was signed in Washington on April 15, 1935 by the representatives of 21 member-states of the Pan-American Union including the USA.

At the signing ceremony in the Oval Office, White House, the President of the US Franklin Delano Roosevelt said: “In opening this pact to the adherence of the nations of the world we are endeavouring to make of universal application one of the principles vital to the preservation of modern civilization. This treaty possesses a spiritual significance far deeper than the text of the instrument itself.”

The unique significance of this historic document is that the Pact provides for unconditional protection of cultural heritage of mankind from the barbaric destruction not only in the course of armed conflicts, but also in peacetime. The high humanistic value of the Pact lies in the fact that the Pact takes under its protection the staff working in the cultural sites and institutions protected by the Pact.

The Roerich Pact prepared the basis for creation of UNESCO key instruments in the sphere of international humanitarian law for protection of cultural heritage of mankind. Its principles formed the basis of the 1954 Hague Convention on protection of cultural properties in case of armed conflicts. This gives a special meaning to the exhibition, as two anniversaries are celebrated this year – the 60th anniversary of The Hague Convention and 140th jubilee of Nicholas Roerich.

In the modern world the Roerich Pact is as urgent as it was never before. Cultural heritage is often the first target during armed conflicts, religious and ethnic internecine wars. All this is well known here in the Netherlands: during the World War II the historical centre of Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed by bombardment, the country suffered from the horrors of the Holocaust. We can recall the recent examples: demolition of the unique Bamiyan Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan, destruction of the ancient Orthodox churches in Kosovo, looting of the National Museum in Baghdad, destruction of the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud in Timbuktu in northern Mali by islamists in 2012, razing to the ground of medieval Old Aleppo during the military conflict in Syria. And the list can be continued...

Nicholas Roerich was sure that the further evolution of mankind is impossible without preservation and development of culture, without returning to its sources. He stressed that we could decrease the chances of breaking out wars and armed conflicts only by expanding the space of culture. He wrote: “Where there is Culture, there is Peace.” The exhibition “The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity” tells about the need to join the efforts of world community for the sake of preservation and protection of mankind's cultural heritage.

Programme of the exhibition opening

April 15, 2014 at 5.30 p.m.
Solemn opening of the Exhibition followed by stand-up meal and live music. On invitation only.

April 16, 2014 at 10 a.m.
Lectures about Roerich and the Roerich Pact, Presentation of the film "The Call of Cosmic Evolution", food & drinks. Costs € 7. Free entrance of the exhibition, coffee/ tea and lunch included. Please, register in advance at: reception@carnegie-stichting.nl and bring your ID or passport.

Peace Palace Library
Carnegieplein 2
2517 KJ The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel 0031 (0)70 3024137

Welcome to the exhibition «The Roerich Pact. History and Modernity»!

Choix de bibliothécaire

A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection

  • Dörmann, K., “The Protection of Cultural Property as laid down in the Roerich-Pact of 15 April 1935”, Humanitäres Völkerrecht, 6 (1993), No. 4, pp. 230-231.

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