Krakow Poland - courtesy of UNESCO
CAIRO – 3 July 2017: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO will consider requests for the inscription of new sites on its World Heritage List and examine the state of conservation of sites already on the list during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee from July 2-12.
The session will also discuss issues like the Palestinian motion to deny Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem and the level of protection Poland gives its pristine Bialowieza forest.
The world heritage committee convenes in Krakow, one of the oldest cities in Poland that was among the first 12 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. The committee includes representatives of 21 state parties to the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage elected by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. In addition to the member states, the session brings more than 170 observer nations and many non-governmental organizations.
Members of the committee include Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
The session was opened on Sunday by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski in a ceremony at the Renaissance Wawel Castle in Krakow, a historic city on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The UNESCO's World Heritage Committee will vote on a draft resolution calling to recognize Hebron's Old City, with it the Cave of the Patriarchs, as a Palestinian World Heritage Site. Another resolution against Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem is also expected to go to a vote during the session.
The Polish Bialowieza forest is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of it is considered as Europe’s last unspoiled woodland. The Polish Environment Minister, Jan Szyszko, has been heavily criticized by environmental groups and the European Union (EU) for threatening the forest by increased logging that the minister permitted there. Furthermore, the EU is threatening sanctions on Poland.
In conjunction with this session, the World Heritage Youth Forum will be organized by the International Cultural Centre in Krakow in cooperation with the Polish National Commission for UNESCO from June 25 to July 4. The forum will serve as a platform for participants aged 22 to 32 years to learn more about the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the working methods of General Information, the World Heritage Committee, the challenges of a sustainable management of World Heritage sites, as well as their conservation and protection.
The World Heritage List includes 1,052 properties under protection located in 165 states Party. Of these, 814 are cultural, 203 are natural and 35 are mixed properties. Only countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention, pledging to protect their natural and cultural heritage, can submit nomination proposals for properties on their territory to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The World Heritage Convention was adopted in 1972 and aims to promote cooperation among nations to protect heritage from around the world that has outstanding universal value and that its conservation is important for current and future generations.
Countries with the most world heritage sites are Italy with 51 sites, China with 44 sites, Spain 42 sites, and France with 40 sites.