20 июня 2011

Address by H. E. Ms Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova, Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO

Distinguished Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Mr President of the General Conference, Madam Director-General, Members of the World Heritage Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me say from the outset how pleased I am to address you at this important gathering of the World Heritage Community. Unforeseen circumstances mean that we are gathering at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris instead of the beautiful country of Bahrain. I know that despite this contretemps, and although we are deprived of your country’s warm hospitality, the meeting will benefit from your wise and professional guidance, Madam Chair. One of the reasons why UNESCO has gained global recognition as an organization is thanks to its normative instruments, like the 1972 World Heritage Convention. Indeed, this Convention is one of the most successful instruments for the protection of the cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value. At its last session, the Executive Board discussed many issues of relevance for this Committee. Board members strongly supported the existing legal instruments in the field of culture, in particular the World Heritage Convention. They reviewed, among other things, the desirability of a new international standard-setting instrument on landscape. While members noted that the continuing destruction of landscapes and the lack of adequate policies and guidance create irreversible damages, the board decided that the best approach right now would seem to be to continue to protect landscapes within existing instruments, like the World Heritage Convention with its cultural landscapes, but also to cooperate with other bodies such as the Council of Europe and its European Landscape Convention. Another topic discussed by the Board is the Draft Recommendation on the Conservation of the Historic Urban Landscape. This was based on important discussions in this Committee which led to the Vienna Memorandum (2005) and the subsequent Decisions of the Convention’s Governing Bodies. The aim of this instrument is to provide guidance in relation to new challenges to urban heritage conservation and management. Regarding this issue, I am pleased to inform you that based on Board’s decision taken previously, a meeting of experts took place at UNESCO Headquarters last month in the light of the comments received from Member States and resulted in the adoption of the Draft Recommendation, which will now be submitted to the General Conference in October this year for approval. And of course, the substantial increase of tourism is a major challenge for World Heritage sites as it can cause serious degradation of the heritage. The World Heritage Committee initiated a broader reflection on this issue and it would be interesting to see the outcome of future discussion on this topic, including by the Executive Board at its next 187th session. Before closing, let me once again express my gratitude to the Chairperson, Her Excellency Mai bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, Minister of Culture of the Kingdom of Bahrain for her involvement in World Heritage matters throughout the year since her election as the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee. I speak from experience when I say that work of a chairperson is both arduous and rewarding. The work of the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee is even more so. The annual session of this Committee is one of the most closely followed of UNESCO’s meetings. The eyes of the world are upon us and the decisions we take are closely scrutinized. Madam Chair, please be assured that you can count on the full support of each and every one of us as you guide us in our work over the coming days. On behalf of Members of the Executive Board of UNESCO, I wish you every success in your work. Thank you for your attention.