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General Assembly elects 12 new members to World Heritage Committee and sets priorities for future of Heritage Convention

Twelve new members were elected to the World Heritage Committee during the 17th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France from 23 to 28 October. The new members of the Committee are Cambodia, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. Each country will serve a mandate of four years.

They join Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria and Sweden on the 21-member Committee, which meets yearly and reviews requests by States Parties to inscribe new cultural and natural heritage properties on the World Heritage List. The Committee also reviews the state of conservation of sites already inscribed. Its next session will take place in Brasilia (Brazil) from 25 July to 03 August 2010.

Ratified by 186 countries to date, the World Heritage Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, whose 40th anniversary will be celebrated in 2012, enjoys almost universal endorsement. Its success has led to the inscription of 890 properties on the World Heritage List so far, raising an increasing number of questions about the criteria for inscription, the monitoring and conservation of inscribed properties; public awareness of World Heritage; the involvement of communities in World Heritage management and conservation.

During their debate about the future of the Convention, the States Parties drew attention to the need to pursue reflection about topics including: the relationship between the Convention, conservation and sustainable development; the public image of the Convention; helping States develop the skills needed to look after their heritage; ensure cooperation and synergy between activities and programs concerning the 1972 Convention and UNESCO's other related standard-setting instruments and activities.

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre