Election of the Chairperson, Rapporteur and Vice-Chairpersons
III.1 As proposed by the Delegate of Thailand, and endorsed by the Republic of Korea, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Benin, Canada, France, Australia, United States of America, Italy, Ecuador and Finland, Mr Koichiro MATSUURA (Japan) was elected as Chairperson by acclamation. The following members of the Committee were elected as Vice-Chairpersons by acclamation: Benin, Cuba, Italy, Morocco, and Republic of Korea, and Mr Janos Jelen (Hungary) as Rapporteur. It was mentioned that Cuba, Republic of Korea and Hungary would be members of the Bureau for the first time.
III.2 The Committee warmly thanked the out-going Chairperson, Mr Francesco Francioni for the excellent leadership he provided the Committee during the past year which had resulted in closer working relations between the Committee and the Secretariat. The newly-elected Chairperson, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, expressed his appreciation for the remarkable manner in which Mr Francioni carried out his functions as Chairperson of the Committee.
III.3 In assuming the Chair of the Committee, Mr Matsuura stated that the process of globalization occurring in almost all domains, has made the preservation of cultural diversity even more important. The fostering of understanding and respect for all cultures, each for its specificity, is essential and is part of the fundamental mission of UNESCO to promote mutual understanding and co-operation between all countries in the building of peace. In this regard, the World Heritage Convention, since its adoption a quarter of a century ago, has played a vital role. He identified three main issues that he felt required the continued attention of the Committee: the question of geographical imbalance, the concepts of authenticity and integrity taking into consideration the different cultures, and lastly, the relationship with UNESCO. He concluded by indicating the importance of the venue of this session of the Committee, as the City of Kyoto, established more than 1200 years ago and designed to be in harmony with its natural surroundings has always placed culture as the goal of its development. Requesting the support of all present at this session to enable him to fulfill the important tasks before him, Mr Matsuura reiterated his firm commitment to the ideals of the World Heritage Convention. (His speech is included as Annex II.6 to this report).