The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today reiterated her call for calm and restraint around the Temple of Preah Vihear, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. A border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand caused several deaths and damage to the site in recent days.
"I intend to send a mission to the area as soon as possible to assess the state of the temple," she said. "World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them. This requires a collective effort that must be undertaken in a spirit of consultation and dialogue. Heritage should unite people and serve as an instrument of dialogue and mutual understanding and not of conflict."
The Temple of Preah Vihear, dedicated to Shiva, is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800-metre-long axis; it dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. The site is exceptional for the quality of its carved stone ornamentation and its architecture, adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple.