The General Assembly of States Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention replaced more than half the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee during its biennial session, which took place at UNESCO Headquarters from 23 to 28 October. The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the Convention. The General Assembly also focused on the priorities to be set in implementing the Convention as it approaches its 40th anniversary.
The new members elected to the World Heritage Committee are: Cambodia, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. Each country will serve a mandate of four years.
They join Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria and Sweden on the 21-member Committee, which meets yearly and reviews requests by States Parties to inscribe new cultural and natural heritage properties on the World Heritage List. The Committee also reviews the state of conservation of sites already inscribed. Its next session will take place in Brasilia (Brazil) from 25 July to 03 August 2010.
Ratified by 186 countries to date, the World Heritage Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, whose 40th anniversary will be celebrated in 2012, enjoys almost universal endorsement. Its success has led to the inscription of 890 properties on the World Heritage List so far, raising an increasing number of questions about the criteria for inscription, the monitoring and conservation of inscribed properties; public awareness of World Heritage; the involvement of communities in World Heritage management and conservation.
During their debate about the future of the Convention, the States Parties drew attention to the need to pursue reflection about topics including: the relationship between the Convention, conservation and sustainable development; the public image of the Convention; helping States develop the skills needed to look after their heritage; ensure cooperation and synergy between activities and programmes concerning the 1972 Convention and UNESCO's other related standard-setting instruments and activities.