The Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace was designed by Russian artist and humanitarian, Nicholas Roerich (1874 – 1947) as a response to the destruction of the first world war and the Russian Revolution.
The Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments or Roerich Pact is an inter-American treaty. The most important idea of the Roerich Pact is the legal recognition that the defense of cultural objects is more important than the use or destruction of that culture for military purposes, and the protection of culture always has precedence over any military necessity. It has been signed in the Oval Office of the White House (Washington, DC) by India, the Baltic states, and 22 nations of the Americas including the United States by president Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was the first international treaty signed in the Oval Office. The Roerich Peace Pact established an international agreement allowing any nation to protect its cultural or artistic heritage with a symbolic banner, the Banner of Peace. Signed in 1935, this treaty is international law today. FullText
Just as the Red Cross protects hospitals, the Banner of Peace was implemented to protect culture.
Written with the assistance of international experts and lawyers, the Banner of Peace was praised by many notable figures during its signing including Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells. The Pact states, “educational, artistic, and scientific institutions… shall be protected and respected by the belligerents … without any discrimination as to the state allegiance of any particular institution or mission… these missions may display a distinctive flag (the Banner of Peace).. which will entitle them to special protection and respect…” Thus any site of cultural activity around the world can fly the Banner of Peace to declare itself neutral, independent of combatant forces, and protected by international treaty.
The distinctive Banner is three red circles surrounded by a larger red circle on a white banner. The banner is a deep red or magenta color to symbolize the color of our one blood, which is the same for all peoples. The top circle represents spirituality and encompasses the truth of all religions, that we can all unite regardless of our distinct beliefs. The two circles on the bottom represent art and science. The circle that surrounds the three spheres represents culture, the unity of art, science, and spirituality. Roerich hoped by using a symbol that represented all cultures no group would feel excluded from using it. The Banner would have not one but several meanings, as Nicholas Roerich himself wrote:
“Let us be united – you will ask in what way?
You will agree with me: in the easiest way,
to create a common and sincere language.
Perhaps in Beauty and in Knowledge.”
Nicholas Roerich was an artist, scientist and philosopher who travelled extensively through Russia, India, Tibet, Central Asia and the United States. On three occassions he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and is also known for his key role in the creation of the “Rite of Spring”, along with Igor Stravinsky – composer, and Vaslav Nijinsky – choreographer.
After the devastations of the 1st World war, the concept of “world heritage” has become established in mind of the international community and did not stop evolving. He is exactly finally defined by the Convention of the world heritage of the UNESCO of 1972, as a cultural and natural heritage presenting a “exceptional universal value” for the whole humanity. The objective so is to protect sites having an interest for the whole humanity of the damages bound to the nature but also the destructions caused by the man, in particular in case of war.
Registered in the history of the “world heritage”, the Peace pact Roerich is a treaty which was signed by India, the United States and 22 American nations in 1935 at the white House, under the presidency