The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is to meet in Brasilia for its 34th from 25 July to 3 August and will decide on new candidates to be listed as world heritage sites.
There are two world heritage sites in Ireland. Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth archaeological sites on the River Boyne was listed in 1993 and the 7th century monastic complex at Skellig Michael 12 kilometres of the coast of Kerry was listed in 1996. There is one site listed in Northern Ireland – Giants Causeway and Causeway coast.
Ireland has submitted 7 sites to this year’s convention. These include:
- The glaciated karst landscape of The Burren
- The historic City of Dublin based on the Georgian architecture developed from 1714 to 1830 that was developed speculatively by the owners of the great estates that resulted in the city becoming, after London, the second city of the British Empire.
The Neolithic landscape and examples of human settlement of the Céide Fields and north Mayo boglands
- Western Stone Forts in Clare, Galway and Kerry to illustrate a class of enclosed drystone circular monument used by maritime communities
- The monastic city of Clonmacnoise which marks a significant stage in the development of early medieval Christianity
- Early medieval monastic sites in Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Glendalough, Inis Cealtra (Clare), Kells and Monasterboice.
- The royal sites at Cashel, Dún Ailinne, Hill of Uinseach, Rathcroghan and Tara
The convention governing world heritage was ratified in 1972. Ireland became one of the State Parties to it in 1991. Three of those State Parties – Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tajikistan - have no properties inscribed on the World Heritage List to date. Ireland is represented on UNESCO by Ambassador Paul Murray.
Thirty two new properties in total were submitted for inscription on the World Heritage List this year: 6 natural, 24 cultural and 2 mixed (i.e. both natural and cultural) properties, including four transnational nominations. In addition, 9 extensions to properties already listed have been proposed.
The Committee will also review the state of conservation of the 31 World Heritage properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and may decide to add to that list new properties whose preservation requires special attention. The In Danger List features sites which are threatened by a variety of problems such as pollution, urban development, poorly managed mass tourism, wars, and natural disasters, which have a negative impact on the outstanding values for which the sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List.
To date the World Heritage List recognizes 890 properties of “outstanding universal value,” including 689 cultural, 176 natural and 25 mixed properties in 148 States Parties.
The Convention encourages international cooperation to safeguard the common heritage of humanity. With 187 State Parties it is one of the most widely ratified international legal instruments. When signing the Convention, States Parties commit to identifying sites for potential inscription and to preserving sites on the World Heritage List, as well as sites of national and regional importance, notably by providing an appropriate legal and regulatory framework.
The World Heritage Committee, responsible for the implementation of the 1972 Convention, comprises representatives of 21 countries, elected by the States Parties for up to six years. Each year, the Committee adds new sites to the List. The sites are proposed by the States Parties. Applications are then reviewed by two advisory bodies: cultural sites by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and natural sites by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which inform the Committee of their recommendations. The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ICCROM) provides expert advice on conservation and training in restoration techniques.
The World Heritage Committee also examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed sites and asks States Parties to take appropriate conservation and preservation measures when necessary. The Committee supervises the disbursement of over $4 million annually from the World Heritage Fund aimed, among other purposes, at emergency action, training of experts and encouraging technical cooperation. UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee.