14th Session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the
World Heritage Convention
The 14th General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was held in Paris on 14-15 October 2003.
The representative of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ljiljana Ševo attended the session together with representatives of the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in France, Ambassador Slobodan Šoja and his staff.
The following Agenda was adopted for the 14th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention:
1. Opening session and introductory speech by Director General
2. Election of chair, vice-chair and rapporteur
3. Adoption of agenda
4. Discussion of new voting mechanism and review of procedure for the appointment of members of the World Heritage Committee
5. Chairman's report on activities of the World Heritage Committee
6. Discussion on the state of the World Heritage Fund and contributions from states parties
7. Determining contribution levels to the World Heritage Fund pursuant to Art. 16 of the World Heritage Convention
8. Report on implementation of global strategy for a representative and balanced World Heritage List
9. Election of new members of the World Heritage Committee.
The session was chaired by Ahmad Xalali of Iran.
As agreed under the adopted platform for attendance at the 14th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, in regard to agenda items 5 and 8 the representative of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina drew attention to the need for a balanced and representative World Heritage List, bearing in mind that two-thirds of States Parties have fewer than three cultural properties on the World Heritage List and that cultural heritage properties of outstanding and universal value are insufficiently promoted and protected as a result.
The representative of the Commission drew particular attention to the fact that the World Heritage List does not include a single property from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The representative of the Commission emphasized that Bosnia and Herzegovina was therefore extremely interested in seeing the process of designating the historic centre of Mostar as a world heritage site completed as soon as possible so that BiH would no longer be among the countries without a single property on the World Heritage List.
Participants in the session were told of the role of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state institution established after the war pursuant to Annex 8. In accordance with its authority in the field of international cooperation on cultural heritage matters, deriving from a decision of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Commission is charged with nominating properties for inclusion on the World Heritage List.
The representative of the Commission noted that the Commission is keenly awaiting good news from the Committee for the additional reason that the decision is of great importance for awareness-raising and the process of reconciliation and mutual understanding in BiH. One of the Commission's priorities in the near future is therefore to draw up a list of further important monuments from BiH to be nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List. In this regard, the Commission expects to have the support and understanding of the State Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, including financial support, and expert assistance from ICOMOS and the World Heritage Committee.
The representative of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina acquainted those present with the fact that as part of its work the Commission issues decisions, in accordance with agreed criteria, to add certain cultural properties to the list of the Endangered Cultural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Commission will keep the World Heritage Committee informed of the properties on the list and of the interventions required to protect them, providing an estimate of the cost of essential interventions, so that the properties may be added to the World Monuments List of Endangered Sites.
Voting for the new members of the World Heritage Committee took place on day 2 of the General Assembly session, 15 October 2003. The Committee has twenty-one representatives of States Parties, selected according to the criterion of equal representativity of the regions and cultures of the world and qualified in the field of the cultural and natural heritage.
In accordance with the new voting mechanism and the review of the procedure for the election of members of the World Heritage Committee, it was agreed that one of the six States Parties without a single property on the World Heritage List should be appointed to the Committee. Bosnia and Herzegovina was thus one of the candidates in the first round of voting, but the results revealed that the majority of delegates had voted for Kuwait for this place on the Committee.
Following the third round of voting, the new States Parties to be members of the World Heritage Committee were elected, so that the members of the Committee are now:
12. The Netherlands
13. New Zealand
18. The Russian Federation
19. Santa Lucija
20. South Africa
21. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The representative of the Commission handed to the chair and to the Japanese, Italian and Russian Federatio representatives, packages with catalogues and CDs presenting the work of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments and the endangered heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many of the participants expressed interest in and made very favourable remarks about the material.
The Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in France, Slobodan Šoja, and his staff welcomed the presentations made by the representative of the Commission, and expressed regret that contact had not been established earlier between the Commission and the Embassy. Amb. Šoja undertook to hold discussions with some of the members of the World Heritage Committee to help speed up the process of adding the historic centre of Mostar to the World Heritage List.