17th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and the 35th UNESCO General Conference

Tuesday, 6 October 2009
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The 35th session of the General Conference is meeting from 6-23 October 2009, and the 17th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention will meet from 23 to 28 October 2009 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.

At the General Conference, a feasibility study on the desirability of a new UNESCO Recommendation on the conservation of the Historic Urban Landscape will be presented for discussion. The goal of this instrument is to address many of the challenges that affect historic cities and their broader setting, providing general principles and updated guidelines on urban conservation. It will also support the preservation of historic cities as they experience rapid growth, enabling them to accommodate and benefit from urban transformation while maintaining heritage values.

The General Conference will also have the opportunity to approve the establishment of four new category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO, to assist and support Member States in the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in their territories. These centres are the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) in Bahrain, the Regional Heritage Management Training Centre in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and the Regional World Heritage Institute in Zacatecas (Mexico). They will join their efforts and activities to those of the World Heritage Training and Research Institute for the Asia and the Pacific Region in China (WHTR-AP) and the Nordic World Heritage Foundation in Oslo, which are already active category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO. These centres, alongside others which are planned, will form part of a wider network of World Heritage related Training and Research Centres and Funds.

The 17th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention will have an election to replace outgoing members of the World Heritage Committee. There are 21 members on the Committee, with most States Parties voluntarily choosing a mandate of four years (instead of six, as stipulated in the World Heritage Convention) in order to give other States Parties an opportunity to serve on the Committee. In 2009, twelve members will be elected to the Committee.

The General Assembly will also address the future of the World Heritage Convention, by addressing three themes: the results of the Workshop on the Future of the Convention, held at UNESCO Headquarters in February 2009; an examination of the mainstreaming strategies of World Heritage related to the Millennium Development Goals and the one-UN Process, and in the intergovernmental and bilateral aid system and on World Heritage and Sustainable Development; and there will also be a discussion on the theme of "2012 and Beyond", the road map toward the 40th anniversary of the Convention and a long-term vision.