Press Release No.2001-132
WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE TO ANNOUNCE NEW WORLD HERITAGE SITES NEXT WEEK IN FINLAND
Paris, December 7 - Featuring on UNESCO's World Heritage List is a source of pride and helps generate revenue from tourism. This prestigious label presently distinguishes 690 sites of "outstanding universal value." A number of other sites - cultural, natural and mixed - will be added to the List on December 14 at the 25th annual session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee which takes place in Helsinki, Finland, this year.
The World Heritage Committee, in charge of inscribing sites as well as of examining the state of conservation of those already included on the List, has been created by the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by UNESCO in 1972. With 167 States Parties (including, since this year, five new ones: Bhutan, Eritrea, Niue, Samoa, and the United Arab Emirates), the Convention is one of the international instruments to bring together the largest number of countries.
The 690 sites already protected according to the terms of the 1972 Convention are situated in 122 countries and are divided into the following categories: 529 cultural sites, 138 natural sites and 23 mixed sites. Africa numbers 54 sites, the Arab states 52, Europe and North America 343, Latin America 98, Asia and the Pacific 143.
The World Heritage Committee is also in charge of the List of World Heritage in Danger, conceived to draw the attention of governments and public opinion on the need to protect sites that are particularly threatened. It currently features 30 sites: historic monuments such as Angkor, Cambodia, as well as national parks such as those of the Democratic Republic of Congo, threatened by poaching and mining. This list will also be brought up to date in Helsinki by the Committee, which may add new sites to the Danger List, or withdraw those whose protection has improved.
Forty-one submissions to the World Heritage List, made by 28 countries, and the proposed extension of six sites already inscribed, will be examined by the Committee this year. Two countries, Botswana and Israel may have sites inscribed for the first time.
Countries submitting sites this year are: Austria, Botswana, Brazil, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Madagascar, Morocco, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan. Austria and Hungary are presenting a joint submission. China, Cyprus, Ecuador, Italy, Kenya, the Russian Federation, and Spain, are, for their part, proposing to extend sites already on the List.
The new inscriptions are scheduled to be announced on December 13, and possible changes to the List of World Heritage in Danger should be made public on December 12 or 13. The meeting of the Committee, presently headed by Henrik Lilius (Finland), is preceded, December 7 and 8, by an extraordinary session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee.
The intergovernmental World Heritage Committee numbers 21 States Parties elected for a term of six years by the General Assembly of the States Parties to the 1972 Convention. It determines the inclusion of sites on the World Heritage List on the recommendation of two advisory bodies: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), for cultural sites, and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), for natural sites. The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), for its part, is mandated to provide expert advice on monument restoration and organises training sessions for specialists.
By adhering to the Convention, states commit to ensure the preservation of those sites which they themselves have nominated and which have been included on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage Committee examines reports on the state of conservation of listed sites and requires the States Parties to take corrective measures when they are not managed properly. The states concerned must also adopt legislative and regulatory measures to protect their sites.
The World Heritage Committee also allocates subsidies provided by the World Heritage Fund. It can provide emergency financing to make possible repairs of man-made or naturally incurred damages. The Committee moreover facilitates technical co-operation - expert intervention and material assistance - as well as personnel training. The World Heritage Fund has an annual budget of over US$4 million provided through obligatory and voluntary contributions from States Parties.
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