World Heritage Committee Concludes 26th Session in Budapest, Hungary
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The World Heritage Committee concluded its 26th session (24 to 29 June 2002) by adopting the Budapest Declaration on World Heritage, marking the 30th anniversary of the signing of the World Heritage Convention in 1972. Adopted in the presence of the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, and representatives of the Hungarian government, the Budapest Declaration recognizes the near universality of the World Heritage Convention, having been signed by 172 states out of a total of 189 Member States of the United Nations. In calling for the application of the Convention to "heritage in all its diversity," the Declaration acknowledges the great strides taken during thirty years to broaden the concept of heritage protection as an "instrument for the sustainable development of all societies through dialogue and mutual understanding." The Committee gave renewed importance to strengthening the credibility of the World Heritage List, to ensuring "effective conservation" of properties on the List, and to the promotion of capacity-building measures.
The Committee's week was tightly scheduled around a record number of thirty separate agenda items. To deal with those agenda items that could not be discussed at its Budapest session, the Committee decided to hold an Extraordinary Committee session in March 2003 (Paris, 17-22 March 2003). Consequently, it was decided that there would be no Bureau session in 2003. The 27th session of the World Heritage Committee will be held from 30 June to 5 July 2003 in Suzhou, China.
On 26 June, the Committee adopted a decision concerning the protection of cultural heritage in the Palestinian Territories. Deploring the "destruction and damage caused" to this heritage, the decision invited the UNESCO Director- General, in consultation with the Committee's Chairman, to assist "with the task of establishing an inventory" of this heritage and to assess the "state of conservation and the measures for its preservation and rehabilitation." The Committee "further decides to provide financial support for the implementation of this task" and calls on all parties concerned to cooperate with the Director-General.