United nations educational, scientific and cultural organization convention concerning the protection of the world


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Document: WHC-02/CONF.202/2
1. The outgoing Rapporteur, Mr Francisco Javier Lopez Morales (Mexico), presented the Report of the 26th session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee, of which the Committee took note (decision 26 COM 5).
2. The Secretariat recalled that interpretation was provided from Spanish into the two working languages thanks to the generous support of the Spanish authorities.


Documents: WHC-02/CONF.202/3

1. The Chairperson invited the Committee to consider new draft decisions resulting from informal negotiations on the side of the working sessions, thanking all those who had contributed to this effort. The Committee adopted these new draft decisions by consensus (decisions 26 COM 6.1 and 6.2).
2. The Chairperson then invited the Observers of Israel and Palestine to make a statement if they so wished to do.
3. The statement made by Mr Michael Turner, Observer of Israel appears below:
"... In the first part and looking at the Item 6 of the Agenda, I would like to congratulate the Committee for the changes which have been introduced since the Bureau Meeting in April, and the recent developments which have taken place. They do reflect the results of an understanding of what really happened at the Church of the Holy Nativity. They allow us to have a little more perspective, and I would like to thank specifically our Chairman and the Delegate of Greece for their efforts and their understanding in trying to reach a consensus among the Committee members. But unfortunately, I have to make three reservations.
(i) The first paragraph "recalls all the United Nations resolutions". Like all of us, I must admit I am not really able to recall all the U.N. resolutions so I find great difficulty in accepting them! We should concentrate and relate specifically to those resolutions which are indicated and that relate to the issues of cultural heritage.

(ii) In the note taken of the Executive Board decision, the paragraph on "deplore the destruction and damage caused to the cultural heritage in our region" should be deleted.

(iii) The resolution refers to "Palestine", and on this point we have to relate to the Palestinian Authority or the Palestinian Territories. We all hope that there will be two States very soon, but, till then, it creates a misnomer in the present situation.
It feels very much like the situation former Prime Minister Ehud Barak must have been in at the final discussion with Chairman Arafat and President Clinton – almost getting there and suddenly finding the solution not clinched; these changes might deal with packaging, but Israel considers them very important, though not necessarily affecting the content on cultural heritage which we support and respect.
I would like to add a quotation from the letter which was sent on the 22 April 2002 by our Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mr Shimon Peres, to Mr Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO in relating to the events which were taking place at the time of the siege of the Church of the Nativity:
"On its part, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has made every effort to safeguard this important Christian site and has refrained from entering the Church by force, seeking to resolve the issue through a compromise, with a view to protecting both the site and the clerics in it. Moreover, I was personally involved with seeking a solution, (and was already in touch with the Vatican to this effect). Israel has been careful to avoid, as far as possible, damage to the property and innocent individuals, as a matter of policy, especially in populated areas, at the cost of a high casualty rate among its forces. I would like to reassure you, Dear Mr. Matsuura, that Israel is very conscious of how important it is to protect and preserve monuments of cultural and religious value, for the benefit of generations to come."
This is the point where I would like to move on to the second part and perhaps change hats, and here I am having to look at the final draft proposal for the first time like you all.
Please move down to the penultimate paragraph "Appeals the concerned parties to co-operate with the Director-General ……". Well, I would like to say that I’m here, you don’t have to appeal to a lot of people because I’m here, I have been here with you for two years and I stand up before you. Now, I would also like you to recognize our colleague, the Palestinian Observer. I think we can all relate to something which is missing, and basically missing, in this document. My basic approach as the Chairman of the Israel World Heritage Committee, and it might be a difficult thing to say, is that we cannot change our past but we can change our future. We, in the field of cultural heritage, have this amazing capability of being able to learn from that past, because when we start arguing about that past and at what point we start the accounting, we will only create problems for ourselves. What is missing in my mind, and I would like to add this in my support of a resolution, which I expect to be annexed with the approval of the Chair, are the two words – that of courage and that of co-operation.
On the next item of the agenda, we are going to speak about ‘partnerships’, and for those of you who know, I have been trying at many times to contribute as an observer to move forward with ideas of partnership. This is because cultural heritage is the consensus and not the casus belli. It is the sharing and harmonisation of ideas because what we are looking for is the poetry of place as these become the Epochs of History. They are the celebration of discoveries, the manifestation of ideas, ideals and beliefs all intertwined into the physical fabric of monuments and sites. Francis Bacon wrote that these monuments were the shipwrecks of time and I think that therefore we should be looking at world sites in national heritage and not the national sites in world heritage. This is the meaning that asks us then to re-establish and re-look at what we are doing as States Parties and individuals.
I have spoken about courage, because I honestly feel that it is at the time of difficulty when we need courage – this is where we need the co-operation. At times when things are going well, I don’t need that courage – I can do quite well, thank you very much! And this is the time when I’m asking you, members of the World Heritage Committee here in Budapest, to actively generate those actual projects of partnership. Now I believe that co-operation is going to be very important and therefore I would like to relate to the paragraph calling "for consultation with the Chairman of the Committee". I would like to commend and extend this wording to the "parties concerned" because by moving into the consultation with the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee, it brings the dialogue within the realm of professionalism and academia of the World Heritage. I think in this way that we are going to move forward and reflect the spirit of the D-G note 02/13 of 31 May 2002 on the UNESCO Contribution to Reconstruction and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
So let me then say what I have been doing since the Bureau Meeting in April – although perhaps my wife and bank manager have not been too happy about my orphaned office. What I have been doing is to try and find those projects which bring us together within those Epochs of History. There are three activities which the Committee is supportive of us in Israel. The first one is the "Experts Meeting on the Great Rift Valley". This really is an Epoch of History both natural and cultural – I have called it "Bridging the Rift" because it shows the natural and cultural heritage movement from Africa with the hominid sites continuing through the Fertile Crescent linking the empires of the Pharaohs and Meroe in Greater Egypt and the Axumite Empire in Ethiopia to the Greek/Persian Empires and the Roman Mediterranean - Mare Nostrum - which we all share through the writing of Fernand Braudel. But it is also the cradle of the three monotheistic religions and the concept of peace.
Therefore this first project is, in fact, the spirit of what we are saying – it is the courage needed; not "oh, we can't do it now". I would like to hear from everybody in this room "we can do it now", and at that Experts Meeting in October this year I personally invite the representatives of all neighbours to come along and join us to deal with what I believe is the most incredible thematic and serial nomination of the World.
And the second activity which I want to discuss, which came to me because of the problem of the Church of the Nativity, are the sites of Christianity. The sites of ‘Jesus and the Apostles’ appear in the Tentative List of the State of Israel. These are obviously only the sites within our territory. We have had a proposal by the Delegate of Greece and the Delegate of Saudi Arabia at the Executive Board of UNESCO, to inscribe the Church of the Nativity on the World Heritage List in Danger!!! I find this quite amazing because I believe we should be doing something positive and not just looking at dangers. I discovered that Christianity, as an Epoch in History, does not appear on the World Heritage List. [Please will those friends and colleagues from the East excuse me in that I will relate to the perspectives of the part of the world I understand.] And so, therefore, for our next proposal, and this is being discussed in gentle discussion and with the Delegates of Greece and of the Holy See, I call upon you to join all the relevant countries together to begin to understand what really is World Heritage. These are those Epochs of History – the cultural roots, the meanings, the beliefs, the ideals - in essence "criterion (vi)". In this way we will be able to bring together not just the Church of the Nativity but the Desert Monasteries of Byzantium, those incredible monasteries in the Judean Desert which are something very special, the Jewish Synagogues of the Hebron Hills and Jericho together with the Ommayad Palaces and the Palestinian Arab Hill Villages. Truly becoming the Cultural Heritage of our common geo-cultural region.
The third and last project which I want to mention is the support we need for a proposal put together at the School of Architecture of the Bezalel Academy, where I teach in Jerusalem, with a parallel proposal, which was prepared at the same time when the political weather was a little better, at the Al Quds University, to generate a dialogue of discussion in the studies of urban design and conservation. These activities have been supported by the Department of Cultural Heritage at UNESCO and ICCROM and they have unfortunately been cut off. Where is the courage? They were not cut off by myself. Once again we are looking for this courage so that these three projects move ahead positively at the first opportunity and in spite of everything.
If we want to share them we can then move ahead in peace, and if we honestly believe that cultural heritage is that point of consensus to which we are coming together in this, the 30th year of the Convention in our Budapest Declaration, then I think that we will be able to bring together the spirits of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, and to peace.
Thank you."
4. The Observer of Palestine, Mr Ahmad Abdelrazek then made the following statement:
"Mr Chairperson,
First and foremost, I wish to thank you all, those who have worked on this consensus text and who have worked very hard during three days to achieve a positive spirit and a constructive text, and I hope that this will be an example to follow in the future.
I would first like to say that I very much appreciate Mr Michael Turner, as a person. I have known him for several years; he is a man of peace, a constructive man, in fact he is always very cooperative – and I appreciate his proposals. But, unfortunately, listening to him, I have the impression that there, where he lives, in Tel Aviv, he is light-years away from Naplouse, Bethlehem and Hebron, because apparently he has not seen, or has not managed to see, or does not want to see, what is really happening. And, sadly, I cannot fail to mention this because you all know, you have all seen the pictures, the reports of the massive destruction. Historic monuments are damaged, and sometimes destroyed, cultural activity centers have been bombed following the re-occupation by the Israeli army of the Palestinian Territories.
We have tried not to bring this picture into our discussions here, but the fact that the Representative of Israel has made little of the sufferings of the Palestinian people has obliged me to recall this fact, because it was an act of a government official of a recognized country and member of the United Nations, and it is normal that the World Heritage Committee be alarmed, and express its disapproval and I thank the Committee for recognizing the Palestinian cultural heritage, and for its interest in safeguarding it, as this heritage does not only belong to the Palestinians.
This heritage belongs to 2/3 of humanity because Palestine has always been a melting pot and passage of civilizations and religions. And, furthermore, most of you have a link somewhere somehow with this land. So as not to make my intervention too lengthy, I would say that we have always called for co-operation; but to cooperate, there must be mutual respect. From the moment one recognizes that the other exists as an equal to oneself, co-operation becomes possible. As you know, until today, as I am talking to you, all the Palestinian towns are occupied by the Israeli tanks. In spite of this situation, in spite of the suffering, our vision is always directed towards the future and we hope that this will be a constructive future; we always have the hand stretched out towards the Israeli people for co-operation, but in respect and dignity; the relationship between a master and a slave cannot be called co-operation. It is not possible. So, when you see more clearly, we have the hand stretched out, and once again I call upon the Representative of the State of Israel to co-operate with the Committee for the future and for construction.
And why was there an appeal to the Director-General for co-operation, since, let me remind you, until now and for three years, Israel has refused all the emissaries sent by the Director-General. One cannot say ‘I am here, I am ready to co-operate’, and at the same time, officially, refuse that co-operation.
With the Director-General – it is recorded by the Executive Board – this request has been reiterated several times by the Executive Board and by the General Conference. So, one cannot simply utter words of peace and co-operation without being really sincere. But we, we repeat, in spite of all sufferings, in spite of this tragic situation, we are ready, for the future of our children, and for the good of humanity, and especially for World Heritage, to cooperate together with the Committee to succeed in the task of safeguarding the heritage of humankind.

Thank you."

5. Following their interventions, the World Heritage Committee agreed upon the proposal of the Chairperson to include both statements in extenso in the Summary Record (decision 26 COM 6.3).

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