UN body overseeing worlds great heritage sites elects 12 new members
29 October 2009 – The United Nations body that seeks to preserve
internationally renowned cultural and natural sites around the world,
from the pyramids of Egypt to Australias 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
The committees next session will take place in Brasilia, Brazil, from
25 July to 3 August.