The paper demonstrates the intrinsic connection between the Roerich Pact – the first international treaty on the protection of cultural property in peace-time and in time of armed conflicts, and the philosophic system of the Living Ethics. The Pact was initiated by the outstanding Russian thinker, artist, scholar and public figure Nicholas Roerich whereas the Living Ethics was created by Helena Roerich and Nicholas Roerich in cooperation with the spiritual Teachers of the East, and it represents a synthesis of the Eastern philosophy and the Russian cosmism. According to the Living Ethics, culture is the foundation and the driving force of the evolution of humanity, it is also the basis for lasting peace in the world. Nicholas Roerich’s concept of culture–which is based on the ideas of the Living Ethics–not only draws a clear line of distinction between culture and civilization, it also substantiates the necessity of according priority to culture in its interrelation with civilization. The principle of priority of culture is implemented in the Roerich Pact: this international treaty provides for unconditional protection of cultural property in times of armed conflict (priority of culture over military necessity), and in peacetime it accords priority to culture (education, science, arts and spirituality) in the internal policies of the countries, which means in particular priority of funding of the cultural, scientific and educational institutions. The main objective of the Roerich Pact is the preservation of cultural property. According to the Living Ethics the preservation of the material objects of culture means the preservation of the energy of culture (the latter is the foundation for the evolution of mankind), for energy does not exist without matter. Cultural heritage which has accumulated in itself the creative luminiferous power of thought of its great creators is of paramount importance for improvement of society and for overcoming the deep-running contemporary crises and particularly the main one of them – the moral crisis. The destruction of cultural objects and consequently of the very space wherein culture exists inevitably brings about the domination of pseudo-culture which resonates with the low instincts of the human being and leads to the swelling of egotism, aggression and mass predatory consumption. True culture, true art, and science elevated by ethics contribute for the development of the inner spiritual strength of the human being, for the flowering of her/his creative potential and therefore for the advancement of humanity on the ladder of its cosmic evolution.
Nicholas Roerich; Helena Roerich; Ludmila Shaposhnikova; the Living Ethics; the Roerich Pact; the Banner of Peace; the concept of culture of Nicholas Roerich; culture; civilization; evolution of humanity; international law in the field of cultural property protection, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.