Thirty-seven new sites will be proposed for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List during the 30th session of the World Heritage Committee scheduled for July 8-16 in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. The President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus; the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura; and Ina Marčiulionytė, Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee and Permanent Delegate of Lithuania to UNESCO will open the 30th session in a ceremony at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre (8 June, 6p.m. accreditation to the session must be obtained in advance)**.
This year, the Committee will review 27 cultural sites, eight natural sites, two mixed sites and three transboundary sites presented by 30 countries: Azerbaijan, Austria, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Italy, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Poland, Senegal, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania.
Four countries are applying for the extension of sites already inscribed: Finland, Nepal, Serbia and Sweden.
During this session the Committee will also consider measures to preserve heritage in view of climate change. The Committee's deliberations will be based on recommendations submitted by experts who held a conference on the subject at UNESCO in March this year.
To date, UNESCO's 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage protects 812 properties of "outstanding universal value," in terms of the Convention. These include 628 cultural, 160 natural and 24 mixed properties in 137 States Parties.
During the session, the Committee will also examine the 34 sites currently on the List of World Heritage in Danger. These are sites that face serious threat from a variety of causes such as pollution, pillaging, war, poorly managed tourism, poaching etc. The List includes the Minaret and Archaeological Vestiges of Jam in Afghanistan, Cologne Cathedral in Germany and Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Convention encourages international cooperation in order to safeguard this common heritage. With 182 States Parties, it is one of the most widely ratified international legal instruments. By signing the Convention, States Parties commit to preserving 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 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 World Conservation Union (UICN). 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 is responsible for the implementation of the 1972 Convention. It examines reports on the state of conservation of the inscribed sites and asks States Parties to take 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.
During the session the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Ms Marčiulionytė, will give a daily press briefing at 2.30 p.m. in the Press Conference room of the Reval Hotel Lietuva. A press Conference will be held when the inscription of new sites is completed, probably on the evening of 13 July.
**For accreditation contact: Ramunas Macius
Information and Public Relations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel +370 5 236 24 56, Fax +370 5 231 30 90 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gina Doubleday, Tel: +33 (0)1 45 68 16 60 and during the session +370 650 10548
Roni Amelan, Tel: 33 (0)1 45 68 16 50 and during the session +33 (0)6 74 39 84 41
Carole Darmouni, Tel: 33 (0)1 45 68 17 38 or + 33 (0)6 18 01 88 82
Ariane Bailey Tel: 33 (0)1 45 68 16 86