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UN Body Overseeing World's Great Heritage Sites

UN Body Overseeing World's Great Heritage Sites

New York, Oct 29 2009 11:10AM

The United Nations body that seeks to preserve internationally renowned cultural and natural sites around the world, from the pyramids of Egypt to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, has elected 12 new members as the number of sites already inscribed on the World Heritage List nears 900.

At a meeting in Paris ending yesterday, the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, adopted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1972, replaced more than half the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee that oversees the treaty.

Cambodia, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and United Arab Emirates now join Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria and Sweden for a four-year term in reviewing States’ requests for the inscription of new sites and determining which of those already on the list are in danger of serious deterioration.

The 890 sites inscribed so far range from the minaret and archaeological remains of Jam and the cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan, both considered endangered, to Victoria Falls and Great Zimbabwe National Monument in Zimbabwe.

Ratified by 186 countries to date, the World Heritage Convention enjoys almost universal endorsement.

During a debate about the future of the convention, the Paris meeting focused on such issues as conservation and sustainable development and the need to help States develop the skills needed to look after their heritage.

The committee’s next session will take place in Brasilia, Brazil, from 25 July to 3 August.


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