During its 38th session in Doha (Qatar), the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has elected Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Maria Böhmer Chair of the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee. She will take over from H.E. Mrs Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, who chaired this year’s session in Qatar. Germany will host next year’s session of the World Heritage Committee, which is due to take place from 26 June to 8 July 2015 in Bonn.
“The World Heritage Convention is the best‑known UNESCO programme here and throughout the world,” said Minister of State Böhmer in Doha. “As Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, my focus will be on sustainable management and the protection of World Heritage sites in danger, with a special focus on Africa,” she added.
The World Heritage Committee comprises 21 members, of which one third are newly elected every two years by the General Assembly of the now 190 States Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Germany’s four‑year term of office ends in 2015. The World Heritage Committee decides in annual sessions on the inscription of properties on the World Heritage List and on the “List of World Heritage in Danger”, the use of the World Heritage Fund and issues linked to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The World Heritage Committee has held its session in Germany on one previous occasion – this was in December 1995 in Berlin.
Some 1,500 participants and over 200 journalists are expected to attend the session next year in Bonn. The highlight of each session of the World Heritage Committee is the decision on new World Heritage sites. Three German sites have been nominated for 2015. The Speicherstadt and Chilehaus with Kontorhaus District in Hamburg and the Namburg Cathedral and the landscape of the rivers Saale and Unstrut, an important dominion in the High Middle Ages, have been submitted by Germany. The Danevirke and Hedeby in Schleswig-Holstein are part of a transnational serial nomination of Viking monuments and sites under the leadership of Iceland.