Document: WHC-02/CONF.202/INF.3 1. The Chairperson invited the Committee members to nominate a new Chairperson.
2. The Delegate of Egypt, on behalf of the Committee, thanked Mr Henrik Lilius (Finland), the outgoing Chairperson for his commitment and his contribution to the work of the Committee. He then proposed Mr Tamás Fejérdy (Hungary, Director of the State office for Cultural Heritage) as new Chairperson. Mr Fejérdy, he recalled, has an extensive record in cultural heritage conservation and is experienced in international work, including at the Council of Europe and UNESCO.
3. The Delegates of Korea, Finland, Greece, South Africa, Nigeria and the Russian Federation supported his proposal.
4. The Chairperson further invited the Committee to designate a new Rapporteur.
5. The Delegate of Zimbabwe commended the work of the outgoing Rapporteur, Mr Lopez Morales (Mexico) and proposed that Ms Bénédicte Selfslagh (Belgium, Heritage Division of the Walloon Region, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Council of Europe) be his successor. Ms Selfslagh is well known for her contributions to the work of the Committee and would be committed to implement the new format of the report as proposed by the Delegate of the United Kingdom.
6. The Delegates of Saint Lucia, Lebanon and Argentina supported this proposal.
7. The Chairperson then invited the Committee to elect five Bureau members.
8. The following nominations were made: China as proposed by the Delegate of Thailand, Greece as proposed by the Delegate of Mexico, South Africa as proposed by the Delegate of Nigeria, Egypt as proposed by the Delegate of Oman and Mexico as proposed by the Delegate of Saint Lucia.
9. The Chairperson noted the consensus and declared the new Bureau elected (decision 26 COM 4).
10. The newly-elected Chairperson then delivered the following speech.
Honourable delegates of the World Heritage Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an exceptional privilege for me to chair, in the name of my country, Hungary, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Thank you for the support and confidence with which you have honoured me in entrusting these functions to me for a period of one year. It is a mission to be accomplished and I will do my utmost to do so in accordance with its importance. Naturally, I will do my best and will devote all my energy and efforts to rise to the occasion and assume this heavy responsibility.
To continue the words of welcome and thanks, allow me to address a few words to Professor Henrik Lilius, my predecessor to the role of Chairperson. I would like to express my compliments and sincere thanks for the work and the task that he has accomplished with as much scientific rigour as precision focused on efficacy which is reflected by the results. In comparison to previous Chairpersons’ mandates and those that will follow that of Mr Henrik Lilius, the length of his Chairmanship was only half of that of the other mandates. However, we all know very well that that shortened Chairmanship period, due to the modification in the annual work cycle of the Committee, was of great importance in the life of the World Heritage Committee. Professor Lilius, may I also thank you personally for your work. You have succeeded in significantly promoting numerous strategic processes which have greatly facilitated the work of the next Chairperson.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a very special pleasure for me to welcome you in the year of the 30th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention. I fully realize the large number and importance of the tasks for which we are responsible; we are together here to work. All the same, the 30th anniversary of the Convention, like the anniversary of an adult, should not go by unacknowledged. Thirty years is the period of a whole generation, “the age of man” – as the Hungarians say. It is over just such a period that successive generations -- grandfather-son-grandchild -- evoke the continuity of the transmission of life and all that is linked to it, including culture and heritage.
Thirty years of the Convention has proved and continues to prove today its actuality; it has gone even further, it has visibly flourished both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The application of the Convention, the fundamental objectives of which are based on the protection of humankind’s cultural and natural sites, also highlights the wealth, breadth, the fantastic extent and depth of these properties. They reveal marvels that some of us suspected even before the mirror of World Heritage had identified them.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The wealth and diversity of world heritage, the successive emergence of new ’types’ and the enthusiasm that impregnates the tentative lists of properties should not distract us from the fragility and vulnerability, sometimes tragic or moving, of these properties and of the special and universal responsibility entrusted to States Parties, signatories of the Convention. Working to know the sites, so as to better recognize their World Heritage values is marvellous, but one must never forget that the protection and preservation of these sites for the future generations is a primordial task.
Alas! There are more than enough to preserve and conserve!
It is not only natural disasters, difficult or impossible to avoid, that threaten these sites common to all humankind. The macro-economic mechanisms and economic processes do not take into account the principles of sustainable development. The so-called development programmes, the aims of which are the relentless exploitation of values, and which reflect a short-term philosophy totally lacking in professional competence… poverty, profit seeking and negligence -- all harbour the seeds of decline. And we have not yet spoken of deliberate destruction, acts of vandalism, as inconceivable as it may seem, but real. Sadly, studies concerning the state of conservation of World Heritage sites, regularly discussed during the annual Committee sessions, provide us with many examples.
A more rigorous management of the state of the World Heritage sites could be one of the more urgent tasks demanding decisions which would open new perspectives for the future period in this millennium.
According to the original philosophy of the Convention, the strength of the Convention emanates from the fact that the States Parties assume a common responsibility with the State Party whose site is in danger. If that desire to preserve the values had more margin for manoeuvre and means, better co-operation or assistance could be achieved, which would of course, be characterised in each of the cases by the solidarity of equal partners.
Furthermore, - and this does not only concern sites in danger – means for the management of World Heritage sites respecting the principle of sustainable development must be found. In this field, the programmes that take into account the large-scale co-operation of partners will have a more important role and the elaboration of principles and relevant fields of application can no longer be deferred.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Although the agenda of our meeting is very heavy, I am not sorry that the documents of a strategic and decisive nature for the future of the Convention are being discussed here in Budapest. I hope that we will adopt some of them, but at least some will be prepared and ready for adoption at the next Committee meeting.
Budapest, the host city of this meeting, also has a World Heritage site, of which it is very proud. It was the first site that the Committee inscribed on the List in 1987 following the adhesion of Hungary to the Convention, in 1985. I hope that in spite of the heavy workload you will have a little time to discover the beauties and value of this city. In any event, you will certainly share my opinion in saying that Budapest, as all historic cities, is a living example of the integrated synergy of tangible and intangible heritage, and the interaction of all these elements that it presents to us in all the layers of its past, present and future. Pest, Buda, and Obuda are historic sites whose origins go back to olden days but which at the same time had a brilliant although somewhat turbulent history from the Middle Ages to modern times. Budapest, as you see it today, this metropolis on the two banks of the majestic Danube, historically speaking is a young city of just 130 years. I would say that this ambiguity, viewed from the world heritage perspective is symbolic, it is the symbol of the younger generation that will have to be responsible for the preservation and the development of the heritage. It is “in the hands of the youth” that the heritage becomes the best means of knowing oneself and mutually understanding each other.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The message of the spirit and the application of the World Heritage Convention and the primary task which derives from it indicates that the preservation of sites is indispensable, and especially for the individuals and the communities who have created and preserved them, so that these sites and wealth may contribute, in their turn, to the creation of other sites and other communities who will encourage improvement in the quality of life.
In conclusion, following these thoughts, I promise to accomplish the tasks of Chairperson with great zeal and perseverance, in the service of this eminent Committee and the World Heritage Convention. If the implementation of the objectives of the Convention, as much the quantitative as qualitative aspect is more especially the responsibility of the Committee, it is also so that, and I am certain, the Chairperson of the Committee can always count upon your co-operation and assistance to promote our cause. May I also say that I depend upon you and thank you in advance for your support."