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World Heritage Convention - Legal issues

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 17 Dec 2012 03:26 
I came across this paper written by a legal academic from Oxford University discussing the issue
"Who can apply to add sites situated in disputed territory to the World Heritage List"

There would seem to be room for other discussions on legal issues concerning the World Heritage Convention so i have raised a generic topic for it

Author Assif
#2 | Posted: 17 Dec 2012 18:28 | Edited by: Assif 
Funny how the political affiliation of the Israeli author Shlomit Wallerstein can be read through the lines! Of course the comparison with Jordan on the one hand and with Spain, Argentina and Syria on the other hand is misleading.
Jordan was not claiming Jerusalem when it was inscribed and the nomination of Jerusalem was recognised as an exception to the protocol by Unesco. This is contrary to Palestine who is not only claiming the territory of East Jerusalem but whose right over it is widely acknowledged including by the UN and Unesco.
This in turn is also in contrast to Argentina, Spain and Syria. No state recognizes Syria´s aspiration to control Lebanon. Conversely, the UN recognizes Lebanon´s independence. This is not the case with East Jerusalem. Although Israel has control over the area and claims it there is currently no state nor any international organization which recognizes this claim.
The author also ignores the symbolic nature of a Unesco recognition. A recognition of Palestine´s right over heritage sites located in the disputed area is not only intended to promote the protection of the site but also to support the internationally acknowledged claim of the Palestinians over that disputed territory.
Israel cannot propose any sites beyond its recognized boundaries (see the problem with Tel Dan). The same way, regardless of how some Palestinian nationals may feel, Palestine cannot propose any sites beyond its own recognized boundaries. This is true of any nomination made by a state party.

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 18 Dec 2012 01:29 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Israel cannot propose any sites beyond its recognized boundaries (see the problem with Tel Dan).

Is this correct?
I have re-read the published minutes of the 2011 WHC with regard to Tel Dan. We have already discussed this matter and established that the reason why Israel hasn't been successful with it has been the fact that a part of its buffer zone lies within a disputed area on the Syrian border.

The minutes however make it quite clear that the WHC was offered 2 options
a. Inscribe
b. Wait for "clarification" of the frontier.

Given the make up of the WHC (Iraq, Bahrain etc), the WHC opted for b (surprise, surprise...) - but, apparently it COULD have chosen option a.! There was no suggestion that such a decision to inscribe a site which was partly within a disputed area would have been ultra vires in relation to the Convention.

I have wondered why Israel thought it necessary to include this disputed area within the buffer zone of Tel Dan - was it being entirely "naive" on this matter or was it (surreptitiously) trying to get something past the system! There are plenty of inscribed sites on frontiers whose buffer zone should ideally extend into the neighbouring state. Of course, in such cases the buffer zone has to be truncated back to the frontier - i have never seen an Advisory body review stating that a site can't be inscribed because it should have a buffer zone extending into the neighbouring state! I have recently been looking at the boundaries of Al Ain (UAE). The core area runs in part along the frontier with Oman - in theory Oman could build a 100 story skyscraper or dig a mine or have a sand quarry etc etc in circumstances which, if the area had been a part of UAE, would not have been allowed.

On reflection - perhaps Israel was between a rock and a hard place - NOT to have included the disputed area within the buffer zone when it was natural to do so could have been taken as an admission that it did not "own" the area. "Giving" such things away outwith a negotiation is of course a diplomatic "no no"!

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 World Heritage Convention - Legal issues

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