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World Heritage Convention

Decision 2 COM .7
Opening of the session

The Deputy Assistant Director General for Operations (Culture and Communication) responded on behalf of the Director General of UNESCO. Mr. Bolla expressed UNESCO's sincere appreciation for the invitation by the Government of the United States of America to hold the second session in Washington. In greeting members of the Committee and wishing them success in their work, he indicated the important role of international organizations such as UNDP, UNEP, IBRD, IDB, WFP, OAS and ALECSO in providing crucial support to conservation measures. In this context, he also expressed UNESCO's gratitude to the host country for its intellectual and financial support to a number of conservation projects throughout the world. He then reported on the present situation regarding the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (hereinafter referred to as "the Convention"). Forty (40) Member States of UNESCO had ratified or accepted the Convention as of 23 August 1978 and other Member States were about to do so. Thus the Committee would be enlarged to twenty-one members, as provided for under the Convention, when the next election to the Committee took place on 24 November 1978, at the second General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention to be held during the next General Conference of UNESCO. He continued with an analysis of the geographical distribution of States Parties to the Convention and pointed out that nine States Parties belonged to the Arab Region, eight to the African Region, eight to the Western European and North American Region, seven to the Central and Latin American Region, five to the Asian and three to the Eastern European Regions. Mr. Bolla noted that, while this distribution was a fairly balanced one, still greater efforts would have to be made to increase further the number of States Parties, particularly in the Asian and Eastern European regions. He then highlighted the fact that a number of outstanding cultural and natural properties had already been nominated by States Parties for inclusion in the World Heritage List, which set a high standard for the future designation of properties for the List. In reviewing the present financial situation of the World Heritage Fund, he stressed the crucial importance of voluntary contributions to the Fund. Mr. Bolla then expressed the opinion that the time had probably not yet come to launch a world-wide mass media campaign aimed at the general public for publicising the Convention, as this might be more effective when a greater number of concrete achievements could be shown. In this connection, Mr. Bolla stressed the importance of starting immediately with operations under the Convention and he suggested that necessary action be taken without delay to enhance knowledge of the Convention among decision-makers in all Member States of UNESCO. However, preparatory work should already commence to plan future information activities intended for the general public. Finally, Mr. Bolla recalled that the Committee had so far adopted all its decisions with the full consensus of all its members. He concluded with the hope that the decisions adopted at this session would also be unanimous.