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2011 WHC

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Author Solivagant
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#1 | Posted: 19 Jun 2011 05:07 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Today marks the start of the 2011 WHC so it's time to open a new topic on the Forum to record thoughts, news and reactions! Of course, consideration of this year's nominations doesn't commence until later in the event, but there will, no doubt be blogs and twitters about the event which will contain useful background please let us know if you find any.

One aspect which is perhaps worth discussing right from the start is the chairing of the meeting by Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed al Khalifa despite the transfer of the session to Paris following the "unrest" in Bahrain. On 21 Feb I posted under "New in 2011" that "it would be somewhat embarrassing to UNESCO if its "chair" had been removed from government by a "revolution" in advance of the WHC!!". Well the military intervention of Saudi Arabia has kept the Khalifas in power of course. However, it must surely still be a bit embarrassing for UNESCO to have one of its sessions chaired by a representative of the family whose record in Bahrain is at best problematical and at worst oppressive. The upcoming trial of medical staff in Bahrain who treated injured protesters is a case in point.

I have no knowledge to criticise Ms Khalifa's personal competence. Indeed, from what I have read she seems to be a competent technocrat with at least some appropriate education and experience. But it is difficult to separate her record and capabilities from her family membership and to accept that her appointment in Bahrain and elevation to chair of the WHC is not part of that family's hold on power within Bahrain. In other circumstances her "elevation" within a country situated on the Arabian peninsular might have been an event wholly to be applauded!

I have noted several announcements by Bahrain recently that "Bahrain" (rather than Ms Khalifa) is chairing the WHC this would seem to minimise the role of Ms Khalifa's personal capabilities and to emphasise the importance to the current Bahraini regime of the credibility which it is granted by having "one of its own" chairing the meeting a credibility which UNESCO is supporting. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised UNESCO (and other UN units) has a fine record of supporting dictators and their family members. See
http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2010/10/unescos_dictator_prize
and
http://gawker.com/5429095/lola-karimov-the-surprisingly-glamorous-daughter-of-a-bruta l-uzbek-dictator

Author winterkjm
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#2 | Posted: 19 Jun 2011 05:39 
UNESCO should not be political. (Just as the Olympics, "should not" be political) If UNESCO chose to disinvite every nation with corrupt leaders, the World Heritage List would be even more unbalanced than it already is.

Furthermore, it would be a great loss to the world if countless sites of "OUV" were left to crumble under dictators that had no "UNESCO" brand incentive to bring in $$$, or a international venue to promote national pride. (It is certainly debatable the potential negative effects this may also have caused, however I generally believe it has proven the better strategy) How many sites in China would lack stewardship if UNESCO had denied entry to China in 1985? Countless nations have conducted vast amounts of research during their develpoment of tentative lists. Moreover many nations benifited from preservation expertise being shared between nations. So while I understand your point, I can also understand why UNESCO may not have wanted to ignore dictators. Having said this, I am happy UNESCO decided awarding a prize to such a person was not in their best interest.

Another factor to the credibility of the WHL is the number of nations that particpate. If numerous countries like Venezuala, Iran, China, India, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Yemen were not included because of dicators, corruption, etc, really what kind of "World Heritage List" would it actually be? Would the sites in these countries be better preserved if they were denied UNESCO inclusion?

Author Solivagant
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#3 | Posted: 19 Jun 2011 06:04 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I think there is a difference between allowing countries of all sorts to take part and supporting individuals within those countries in pursuing their/their families' undemocratic practices and aims. I wouldn't suggest expelling any country from UNESCO - but perhaps there is no need to assist their ruling families in cementing their hold on power as well!!

In case my view is misunderstood I didn't actually argue above in favour of removing Ms Khalifa from her role as "Chair" - rather I was raising and commenting on an issue which shouldn't just be ignored - especially when the ruling family is USING her role in order to push their case that everything is going well in Bahrain! Who is being "political"!!
I note that the London based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) is campaigning to have her removed.
http://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/alerts/9702-action-alert-unesco-bahrain-to-chair-un escos-world-heritage-committee-whilst-destroying-its-own-heritage
and that pro Shia news organisations such as ABNA have been supporting this by publicising it
http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=248111

The IHRC is a reasonably well thought of organisation in its field (E.g "the staff and voluntary workers of the Islamic Human Rights Commission... put the lie to the common idea that Islam and human rights are irreconcilable.") and indeed has UN "recognition" in the form of having been granted consultative status. Though of course it isn't without criticism it can't really be dismissed as existing on the lunatic fringes - herewith Wiki's section on it
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Human_Rights_Commission

Author elsslots
Admin
#4 | Posted: 19 Jun 2011 06:44 
On a different subject - has anyone found the real timetable yet, including the dates & times when they are discussing the new additions?

Author elsslots
Admin
#5 | Posted: 19 Jun 2011 11:56 | Edited by: elsslots 
Google is our friend -

here are the ICOMOS evaluations of all nominated sites in 2011 (including Jeddah, especially for Solivagant)

Author Solivagant
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#6 | Posted: 20 Jun 2011 14:00 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Back in April I posted about World Heritage-related consultancies - in particular about one located in Bahrain titled "Think Heritage!" ( http://www.worldheritagesite.org/forums/index.php?action=vthread&forum=8&topic=1545 )

Well they have somebody (everybody??) at the WHC and have set up a section on their Web site reporting each day a minute by minute report of what has been happening (I don't yet know how often they are updating it). Can they can keep it going through all the sessions?? We will see! Herewith the link with today's largely inconsequential events -whoever is writing it could usefully put in a bit more "substance" regarding the discussions but it is still of interest/use I guess
http://www.thinkheritage.com/35com.html

I note they take a 2hours 40 minutes lunch!!

Author Solivagant
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#7 | Posted: 22 Jun 2011 04:39 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I see that Dr Rudolff, the Managing Director of "ThinkHeritage!" (see above and http://www.worldheritagesite.org/forums/index.php?action=vthread&forum=8&topic=1555 ), was "Rapporteur" at the 34th WHC in Brasilia. Despite her German nationality she was reported as "representing" Bahrain. So she is in a very good position to operate her World Heritage consultancy - she will know all the players and the "inner workings" of the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS etc!

Very often the "nationality" of the rapporteur indicates where the following year's WHC is going to be held. So, the 30th WHC in Vilnius had a New Zealander, the 31st WHC in New Zealand had a Canadian, The 32nd WHC in Canada broke the rule by having a Barbadian but the 33rd WHC in Seville had a Brazilian in advance of the 34th WHC. So will next year's WHC be in Mali - the home of this year's rapporteur? I note that one of the vice chairpersons and the lady who has already chaired the afternoon of Day 1, the whole of day 2 and this morning's session on day 3 so far (Where is Ms Al Khalifa - she has only chaired the opening morning session so far!!! Could she have a "diplomatic indisposition"?) was from Barbados and she was the rapporteur at the 32nd WHC. So perhaps it will be in Barbados - which has been pretty "active" recently on World Heritage matters
a. Proposing Bridgetown and garrison this year
b. Taking on the role yesterday of establishing "a UNESCO category II Centre on World Heritage in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)."

And, if so, could that mean that the Bridgetown nomination will be given a "fair wind" this year despite the ICOMOS recommendation for a deferral - or will it be resubmitted and inscribed next year as the "reward" for hosting the 2012 WHC??

Author winterkjm
Registered
#8 | Posted: 22 Jun 2011 05:06 
Preah Vihear Temple issues are once again causing problems. Thailand is doing everything possible to force UNESCO to cave in to their demands, shameful and disgraceful.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/243170/abhisit-delay-temple-plan-or-we-walk


http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/242694/pad-wants-delisting-of-temple[/url]

Author elsslots
Admin
#9 | Posted: 22 Jun 2011 10:55 
Thailand, Cambodia, Russia and Bahrain - have put their names forward to host the annual meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's WHC in 2012

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/243346/govt-eyes-whc-meet

Author Solivagant
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#10 | Posted: 22 Jun 2011 12:21 
Cambodia would apparently be proposing to hold it in Siem Reap
"A SIEM Reap bid to host the 2012 World Heritage Committee meeting during the 20th anniversary of Angkor Wat's designation as a World Heritage site next year was officially launched at a UNESCO conference by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An last week.
During a speech to more than 300 delegates in attendance at the Twentieth Technical Session for the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Sites of Angkor, held at the Sokha Angkor Resort, Sok An spoke about Siem Reap's suitability as a site for the meeting.
He said: Cambodia has enough capacity to host the World Heritage meeting in 2012, including safety, good accommodation and a beautiful environment and surrounds. Siem Reap should be considered a possible site, as the meeting will take place in the year the Angkor site was first accorded World Heritage status."


I guess Thailand's "bid" is a "spoiling" one to try to stop Cambodia.
Bahrain must be joking if they expect to be given a second chance!

Author meltwaterfalls
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#11 | Posted: 22 Jun 2011 12:54 
I was under the impression that Cambodia was already hosting it in 2012.

I'm trying to be objective on the Thai position on Preah Vihear, but it really is very tough to see it from their view, especially after the alleged use of cluster bombs in the area. There is an election coming up in a few weeks so maybe this is seen as a vote winner in certain circles.

I would imagine the Thai bid is a bit of a spolier to Cambodia.

Russia 2012, perhaps Qatar 2013 :)

Author Solivagant
Registered
#12 | Posted: 22 Jun 2011 14:03 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Yes, I had forgotten my post from Sept 2010. In fact the news report of a Cambodian government official's statement actually says "Cambodia intends to host...." so, even then it wasn't a "done deal"

It will be very interesting to see whether UNESCO goes along with this. Officially the WH Committee doesn't so much decide WHERE the next meeting will be held as WHO will be the next "Chairperson" as part of the new "Bureau". In theory the nationality of that person then seems to determine the country in which the next meeting will be held and the country concerned can "choose" the city. Furthermore that next Chairperson's "rule" begins at the very end of the current WHC and continues to the end of the next one. So this isn't the sort of thing which can be left to be "decided" as the last item on the agenda!! I guess it must be "tied up" already albeit in confidence.

So has UNESCO decided not to choose Cambodia thus potentially being seen as having backed down and being "weak" in the face of Thai "aggression" or at least unequal between the 2 parties or to choose Cambodia and risk a shooting match at Preah Vihear during next year's WHC? Discretion would suggest a compromise candidate who could be shown to justify the position?

And has Cambodia "done" enough to warrant getting the meeting? OK so it is the 20th anniversary of Angkor Wat's inscription - that maybe a big deal in Cambodia but pretty "small beer" elsewhere. Do they have the people to do it? Presumably the practice of using the rapporteur position the year before is to help States Parties develop the necessary skills/knowledge to do the job (though it isn't usually the same person who later "Chairs" the meeting)? And the Chairperson can get lots of support from the vice chairpersons -as demonstrated by the amount of "chairing" being done by the experienced Bajan (= Barbadian) lady this year so far. I note that the 5 "Vice Chairpersons" appointed last year were from Barbados,
Cambodia, Estonia, South Africa, and Switzerland. So Cambodia has 1 leg under the table but Barbados is still around!! Can Russia come from nowhere??

Author Durian
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#13 | Posted: 22 Jun 2011 21:08 | Edited by: Durian 
2012 is an important year as it is 40th anniversary of World Heritage Convention. Maybe Paris will love to host the WHC event to avoid diplomatic tension.

For Preah Vihear, in my understanding, the dispute is not the temple, but the surrounding area which currently both countries ask ICJ to make decision on the matter, so I think UNESCO should wait until ICJ can settle that who own the land next to the temple.

Author paul
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#14 | Posted: 23 Jun 2011 04:51 
How about a trans-boundary nomination for Preah Vihear? Perhaps extending it with Phimai and Phanom Rung. Then the Thai and Cambodian politicians can give each other a high five and congratulate each other on how well they are protecting their shared Khmer past.

Author Solivagant
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#15 | Posted: 23 Jun 2011 07:09 
If anyone has noticed this report on ThinkHeritage of today's events
12:38pm: The Outstanding Universal Value of the Historic City of Cesky Krumlov is negatively impacted by the construction of a revolving theatre in the castle's historic gardens.

12:41pm: The Committee will consider the potential inscription of the Historic City of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic, on the List of World Heritag in Danger at its forthcoming session in 2012.


here is a link to the stated "offending" theatre!!! I am amazed at the piddling little issues which the WHC gets involved in when there is so much to work at.
http://www.otacivehlediste.cz/uvod/historie
and according to the "History" the auditorium has been there since 1958 and that particular turntable since 1994.

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