25 June 2008
The World Heritage Committee will consider requests for the inscription of new sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List when it meets for its 32nd session in Québec, Canada, from 2 to 10 July . The agenda includes two Central Asian sites: Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan) and Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain (Kyrgyzstan).During this year’s session, hosted by Canada to coincide with the 400th anniversary celebration of the founding of Québec City, 41 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention will present properties for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Among them are five countries that have no sites inscribed on the List: Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, San Marino, Saudi Arabia and Vanuatu.
The Committee will also review the state of conservation of the 30 World Heritage sites inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and may decide to add new sites to that list of properties whose preservation requires special attention. The List in Danger features sites which are threatened by a variety of problems such as natural disasters, pillaging, pollution, and poorly managed mass tourism, that may have a negative impact on the universal values for which they were inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Among sites on the List in Danger, the cultural landscape of Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley will come under particular scrutiny. In keeping with the decision it took at its last meeting, the Committee will decide whether to keep the property on the World Heritage List or whether the building of a bridge in the heart of the landscape warrants its deletion from the List.
The properties submitted by States Parties for inscription on the World Heritage List number 13 natural and 34 cultural sites (see list below), including two transboundary sites, and five extensions to properties already listed.
To date, UNESCO’s 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage protects 851 properties of “outstanding universal value,” including 660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties in 141 States Parties.
The Convention encourages international cooperation to safeguard the common heritage of humanity. With 185 States Parties, it is one of the most widely ratified international legal instruments. When they sign the Convention, States Parties commit to preserve sites on the World Heritage List, as well as sites of national and regional importance, notably by providing an appropriate legal and regulatory framework.
The World Heritage Committee, responsible for the implementation of the 1972 Convention, is comprised of representatives of 21 countries, elected by the States Parties for up to six years. Each year, the Committee adds new sites to the List. The sites are proposed by the States Parties. Applications are then reviewed by two advisory bodies: cultural sites by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and natural sites by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which inform the Committee of their recommendations. The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ICCROM) provides expert advice on conservation and training in restoration techniques.
The World Heritage Committee also examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed sites and asks States Parties to take appropriate conservation and preservation measures when necessary. The Committee supervises the disbursement of over $4 million per annum from the World Heritage Fund, aimed at emergency action, training of experts and encouraging technical cooperation. UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee.
Accredited journalists will be able to attend the opening ceremony of the 32nd session (2 July, 3 p.m.) which will include the participation of the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Christina Cameron (Canada), representatives of the governments of Canada and Québec, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, the President of UNESCO’s General Conference, George N. Anastassopoulos (Greece), and the Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai (Benin).
The media will be briefed about the work of the Committee in regular press conferences and a first briefing will take place on Wednesday, 2 July at 9 a.m.
Natural properties submitted for inscription to the World Heritage List: Quarry of the Fabrica Nacional de Cementos S.A. (FANCESA), Cal Orck’O, Sucre, Departamento Chuquisaca (Bolivia), an extension to the Pirin National Park (Bulgaria), The Joggins Fossil Cliffs (Canada), Mount Sanqingshan National Park (China), Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems (France), Surtsey (Iceland), Bradyseism in Phlegraean Area (Italy), Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan), Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Mexico), Hovsgol Lake and its Watershed (Mongolia), “The Putorana Plateau” Nature Complex (Russian Federation), Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona (Switzerland), Socotra Archipelago (Yemen).
Cultural properties submitted for inscription to the World Heritage List: Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra – Towns of southern Albania, exceptional testimonies of well-preserved Ottoman settlements in the Balkan region, an extension (Albania), Cultural Landscape of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Sao Francisco Square in the city of São Cristóvão (Brazil), The Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia), Fujian Tulou (China), The Stari Grad Plain (Croatia), Urban Historic Scenary Camaguey (Cuba), Spa of Luhačovice – area with a collection of historic spa buildings and spa-related facilities (Czech Republic), Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), The work of Vauban (France), Housing Estates in the Berlin Modern Style (Germany), System of Fortification at the Confluence of the Rivers Danube and Váh in Komárno – Komárom (Hungary / Slovakia), Mountain Railways of India (serial extension to include Kalka Shimla Railway (KSR)) (India), River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam (India), Cultural Landscape of Bali Province (Indonesia), The Armenian Monastic Ensembles in Iranian Azarbayjan ((Islamic Republic of Iran), The Triple-arch Gate at Dan (Israel), Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and Western Galilee (Israel), Mantua and Sabbioneta (Italy), Hiraizumi - Cultural Landscape Associated with Pure Land Buddhist Cosmology (Japan), Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests (Kenya), Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain (Kyrgyzstan), Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca: Melaka and George Town (Malaysia), Le Morne Cultural Landscape (Mauritius), Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús de Nazareno de Atotonilco (Mexico), León Cathedral (Nicaragua), The Kuk Early Agricultural Site (Papua New Guinea), San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano (San Marino), Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih) (Saudi Arabia), Wooden Churches of the Slovak part of Carpathian Mountain Area (Slovakia), Palaeolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain (extension to Altamira Cave) (Spain), Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Cultural Landscape (Switzerland / Italy), The Antonine Wall (extension to the Frontiers of the Roman Empire) (United Kingdom), Chief Roi Mata’s Domain (Vanuatu).