Minister of State Maria Böhmer travelled to Paris on 20 January for a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and the States Parties to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The three-day meeting focused on current challenges facing the World Heritage programme.
During talks with the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and other UNESCO representatives, as well as the presidents of the Advisory Bodies ICOMOS, ICCROM and IUCN, Minister of State Böhmer emphasised that reforms would be necessary in order to ensure the future viability of the World Heritage programme. Böhmer said that this was about nothing less than preserving the world’s heritage for present and future generations.
Preparations for the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee
Böhmer heads a working group that is to draft proposals to reform the existing UNESCO rules for the evaluation and nomination of World Heritage sites on behalf of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The proposals will be presented at the upcoming 39th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which will meet in Bonn from 28 June to 8 July 2015 at the invitation of the Federal Government and be chaired by Minister of State Böhmer.
“Feelings run very high at each meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Joy and sorrow are never far apart”, said Böhmer. All those in attendance hoped that their World Heritage site application would be successful or that their site would not be classed as endangered, she added. Despite this, Böhmer continued, it is important to remain focused on the technical criteria and the votes of the Advisory Bodies. “It is important to avoid politicisation in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The Convention must be focused on credibility and sustainability”, said Böhmer.
Around 40 nominations for the World Heritage List
At its upcoming session in Bonn, the World Heritage Committee will decide on the inclusion of new World Heritage sites in the UNESCO list and take decisions on World Heritage sites that are already registered and endangered. Around 40 sites from all regions of the world have been nominated for the World Heritage List – including from Kenya, Iraq, France, Ukraine and Mexico. The Committee also examines the state of conservation for World Heritage sites such as the Great Barrier Reef, Pompei or Jerusalem’s old town.
Germany will also feature in the discussions. For example, the state of conservation of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage site is to be discussed; moreover, decisions will also be taken on nominations from Hamburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein.