The 45th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, concluding on September 25. This session witnessed the addition of 42 new sites to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage List, alongside other significant decisions.
- The committee was chaired by H.H. Princess Haifa Al Mogrin, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia(KSA) served as the host country for 45th session of WHC.
- India’s Santiniketan in West Bengal and the Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas in Karnataka have been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list…Click here for complete information…
42 new sites inscribed and approved the extension of 5 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List
i.Of the 42 newly inscribed sites, 33 are cultural and 9 are natural. This brings the total number of UNESCO World Heritage sites to 1199 (993 cultural, 227 natural, 39 mixed) across 168 countries. .The Committee also approved the extension of below 5 existing World Heritage sites
ii.The newly inscribed sites are 15 in Europe, 12 in Asia, 6 in Africa, 6 in the Americas and 3 in the Middle East. The 45th Session also saw the largest number of inscriptions from Africa in a single Committee session since 1982.
iii.Nearly 300 civil society organizations and representatives from 195 States Parties participated in the session.
iv.The Dive Into Heritage tool, set to launch in 2025, will allow the public to explore World Heritage sites online.
v.Six World Heritage properties in Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, the Marshall Islands, and Sri Lanka received international funding totalling 336,000 USD to support local conservation projects.
vi.In 2022 and 2023, more than thirty sites benefited from such financial aid, totaling more than 1 million USD.
vii.Africa reached a significant milestone with 5 new sites added, bringing the continent’s total to 100 World Heritage sites.
viii.Rwanda secured its first two inscriptions: Nyungwe National Park and genocide memorial sites.
Newly inscribed cultural sites:
|1||Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er||China|
|2||Deer Stone Monuments and Related Bronze Age Sites||Mongolia|
|3||Gaya Tumuli,||Republic of Korea (South Korea)|
|5||Jewish-Medieval Heritage of Erfurt||Germany|
|6||Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar,||Cambodia|
|7||Modernist Kaunas: Architecture of Optimism, 1919-1939||Lithuania|
|8||National Archaeological Park -Tak’alik Ab’aj||Guatemala|
|9||Old town of Kuldīga||Latvia|
|10||Prehistoric Sites of Talayotic Menorca,||Spain|
|12||Silk Roads: Zarafshan-Karakum Corridor,||Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan|
|13||The Gedeo Cultural Landscape||Ethiopia|
|14||The Persian Caravanserai,||Iran (Islamic Republic of)|
|16||Viking-Age Ring Fortresses||Denmark|
|17||Žatec and the Landscape of Saaz Hops||Czech Republic or Czechia|
|18||Ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan,||Palestine|
|19||Astronomical Observatories of Kazan Federal University||Russian Federation|
|20||Cultural Landscape of Khinalig People and “Köç Yolu” Transhumance Route||Azerbaijan|
|21||Djerba: Testimony to a settlement pattern in an island territory||Tunisia|
|22||ESMA Museum and Site of Memory – Former Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and Extermination||Argentina|
|23||Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker,||Netherlands|
|24||Funerary and memory sites of the First World War (Western Front)||Belgium, France|
|25||Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks,||USA|
|26||Jodensavanne Archaeological Site: Jodensavanne Settlement and Cassipora Creek Cemetery||Suriname|
|27||Memorial sites of the Genocide||Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero, Rwanda|
|28||Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas||India|
|29||The Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments,||Thailand|
|30||The Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta and its Historic Landmarks||Indonesia|
|31||The Maison Carrée of Nîmes||France|
|32||Wooden Hypostyle Mosques of Medieval Anatolia||Turkey|
|33||Zagori Cultural Landscape||Greece|
Newly inscribed natural sites:
|1||Forest Massif of Odzala-Kokoua||Congo|
|2||Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique||France|
|4||Bale Mountains National Park,||Ethiopia|
|5||Cold Winter Deserts of Turan||Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan|
|6||Evaporitic Karst and Caves of Northern Apennines||Italy|
|7||Nyungwe National Park||Rwanda|
|8||Tugay forests of the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve||Tajikistan|
|9||‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid||Saudi Arabia|
Extension of 5 existing World Heritage sites:
|Historic Centre of Guimarães and Couros Zone [extension of “Historic Centre of Guimarães”, inscribed in 2001]||(Portugal)|
|Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba [extension of “Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba”, Togo, inscribed in 2004]||(Benin, Togo)|
|Andrefana Dry Forests [extension of “Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve”, inscribed in 1990]||(Madagascar)|
|Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago [extension of “Ha Long Bay”, inscribed in 1994 and extended in 2000]||(Viet Nam)|
|Hyrcanian Forests [extension of “Hyrcanian Forests”, Iran (Islamic Republic of), inscribed in 2019]||(Azerbaijan, Iran (Islamic Republic of))|
UNESCO Committee Suspends Three Major Projects at Capitol Complex, Chandigarh
In a significant setback to the Union Territory (UT) administration, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has suspended three ambitious projects at the Capitol Complex in Sector 1, Chandigarh,India. The suspension is due to concerns that these projects are impacting the overall universal value (OUV) of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
The reason for the suspension appears to be twofold:
- these projects did not meet the requirements of a heritage impact assessment,
- they were not in compliance with the guidelines provided by ICOMOS.
Capitol Complex: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Designed by renowned Swiss-French architect-planner Le Corbusier.
- Houses the three pillars of democracy: legislature, executive, and judiciary.
- Key components include the Open Hand monument, Punjab and Haryana high court, Tower of Shadows, Geometric Hill, legislative assembly, and the secretariat.
- The site received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2016.
i.Underground Multi-Level basement Parking facility.
ii.Holistic Development Plan for Punjab and Haryana High Court.
iii.Air Cooled(AC) Chiller Plant – Proposed to replace window and split AC units to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the Capitol Complex.
- Committee cited non-compliance with International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) guidelines.
- ICOMOS is a crucial world heritage body responsible for setting guidelines and assessing heritage sites.
- It accepted the recommendations of the expert heritage committee for including Capitol Complex in the World Heritage list..
Changes in UNESCO World Heritage List in Danger: Removals and Additions
During the period from September 12 to 16, the World Heritage Committee conducted a review of the status of 263 sites that were already inscribed on the World Heritage List. This review resulted in significant changes for three properties:
- Removal from UNESCO World Heritage List in Danger: The “Tombs of the Buganda Kings in Kasubi” in Uganda.
- Additions to the List of World Heritage in Danger: Two sites from Ukraine, namely “Kyiv: Saint Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings and Lavra of Kyiv-Pechersk” and “L’viv – the ensemble of the historic centre,” were added to the List of World Heritage in Danger due to threats associated with shelling and other factors.
- Recognition for ‘Sites of Memory’:
Three ‘Sites of Memory’ related to recent conflicts joined the World Heritage List: Argentina’s “ESMA Museum and Place of Memory,” Rwanda’s “Genocide Memorial Sites,” and Belgium and France’s “Funeral and Memorial Sites of the Western Front in the First World War.”
India and the World Heritage
- India has currently 42 world heritage properties overall, which include 34 cultural, 7 natural and 1 mixed (Khangchendzonga National Park, also Kanchenjunga Biosphere Reserve, is a national park and a biosphere reserve located in Sikkim, India. It was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in July 2016) property.
- In addition, India has 50 sites on the UNESCO’s Tentative List.
- Presently, India has the sixth largest number of sites in the World. The countries that have 42 or more World Heritage sites and apart from India are Italy (59), China (57), Germany (52), France (51) and Spain (50).
Note: As per UNESCO’s Operational Guidelines, a country can nominate only one property in a year. India has added 12 new world Heritage sites since 2014.
About World Heritage Committee
Chairperson: Dr Abdulelah Al-Tokhais (Saudi Arabia)
Rapporteur: Ms. Shikha Jain (India)
Member Countries: Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, and Zambia.
According to the World Heritage Convention, a committee member’s term of office is six years.India is currently the member of the WH Committee for its fourth term (2021-25).