In an October 25, 2007 press release, UNESCO announced that nine new members have been elected to the 21 member World Heritage Committee in charge of implementing UNESCO’s Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
Australia , Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, and Sweden were elected for four-year terms. UNESCO notes that the election took place during the general assembly of the 184 States Parties to the Convention, who meet every two years when their representatives come to UNESCO’s Paris headquarters to attend the organization’s general conference.
According to the press release, the new members elected to replace nine States Parties whose terms on the World Heritage Committee had expired were Benin, Chile, India, Japan, Kuwait, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands.
The World Heritage Committee meets every year to add properties to the World Heritage List, which currently boasts 851 sites in 141 States Parties. The committee also reviews the state of conservation of listed properties and determines what should be done to safeguard them.
The General Assembly of the States Parties was opened by UNESCO director general Koïchiro Matsuura, who described world heritage as “one of UNESCO’s flagship activities.” He then invited Member States to work toward harmonious synergy among the organization’s three main legal instruments for cultural diversity: the 1972 World Heritage Convention, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
The director general also emphasized plans to increase the role played by the UNESCO science sector in World Heritage Center operations, and assistant director general for natural science Walter Erdelen later spoke of “the need to develop the complementarity of science and culture, notably in the 80 sites which carry the twin labels of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program and world heritage.”
On the same subject, assistant director general for culture Françoise Rivière told States Parties of “the need to reinforce the link between biodiversity and cultural diversity and to improve interdisciplinarity” which, she pointed out, “already exists, notably when space technology is used to monitor the state of world heritage sites.”