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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nineteen new sites added to World Heritage List

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, third from left, at the World Heritage Committee press conference earlier this week.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, third from left, at the World Heritage Committee press conference earlier this week.

Nineteen new sites added to World Heritage List

The results from the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cambodia are that 19 sites were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List from 18 countries, with 14 cultural sites and five natural.

The WHC meeting, which concluded last night in Siem Reap, brought the largest number of delegates Cambodia had ever received for such an event including more than 1,460 delegates from 128 countries and an estimated 500 journalists.

Seven of the new sites added to the list of places that have universal value came from Europe, eight for the Asia Pacific, one from Latin America and the Caribbean, two from Africa and one from the Arab region.

The new listings bring the total number of worldwide WHC sites to 981, which includes 759 cultural sites, 193 natural and 20 mixed sites from a total of 160 countries.

Qatar and Fiji had their first sites inscribed as a result of the Cambodia meeting. The southern African country of Lesotho had an extension to the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in South Africa, a cultural and natural trans-boundary site. Two other extensions were inscribed to existing World Heritage sites, one in Kenya and one in Poland.

From the 30 total nominations discussed at the Phnom Penh session, all 17 of the sites recommended for inscription were inscribed. Out of the six sites recommended for deferral, four were referred. The two sites recommended for referral were both inscribed and of the two sites not recommended for inscription one was not inscribed and one was referred.

In the parlance of WHC, referral means the advisory bodies recommend that the committee request more information or slight modifications to the nomination before it can be inscribed, as early as the following session, while deferral is much more far reaching. It entails a new evaluation and mission by the advisory bodies before the Committee can re-examine the nomination.

At a press conference earlier this week, Kristal Buckley, Vice President, of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), who was in Cambodia for the first time to attend the WHC meetings, praised Cambodian hospitality and easy working conditions.

We have been impressed with friendly hospitality, enjoyed the restaurants, the climate and the very easy social environment in which we have been able to do the hard work. And we thank the people for the easy working conditions.

ICOMOS Advisor Michael Cotte also expressed appreciation for Cambodia.

“Cambodia is so important. I feel that very strongly about the international cooperation around Angkor. This cooperation between international organisations and Cambodia is very impressive,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, chairman for the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, said Cambodia’s hosting of the event will have the effect of making the Kingdom more known worldwide and will attract more tourists and investments.

“Our living standards have increased in Cambodia and we have succeeded in maintaining peace and stability.”

Also during the WHC meeting in Phnom Penh, changes were made to the Danger List; those sites needy of protecting. The danger listing is intended to mobilise all possible support for the safeguarding properties which are recognised by the international community as being of outstanding universal value for humanity as a whole. Currently, there are 44 properties on the List in Danger.

The site of Bam and its Cultural Landscape Iran was removed from the Danger List. East Rennell in the Solomon Islands was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The six World Heritage sites of the Syrian Arab Republic were inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The sites concerned are: the Ancient City of Damascus: Site of Palmyra; Ancient City of Bosra; Ancient City of Aleppo; Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din; Ancient Villages of Northern Syria.

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