Bild: © (c) UNESCO
UNESCO's mission is: "Since wars being in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." It is embedded in the Preamble of its Constitution which was ratified by 37 states on 16 November 1945 in London.
The experiences of World War II has led to the belief that, "a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind."
UNESCO's aim is "to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture."
What is World Heritage?
The UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972 labelled "UNESCO World Heritage". There are currently (March 2017) 1073 sites in the World Heritage list (832 cultural heritage, 206 natural heritage, 35 mixed sites in 167 countries). Crucial for UNESCO World Heritage is the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The decision about being included on the World Heritage List is made by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The World Heritage status does not represent any additional protection provided by national preservation mechanisms. It is the sustainable national heritage protection that provides the base layer for inscription.
Why was the World Heritage Convention adopted?
The story of the World Heritage Convention starts in Egypt. In the 1960s as the Aswan Damn was being constructed, the three-thousand-year-old temple complexes in Abu Simbel faced the threat of being submerged by the rising waters of the Nile caused by the dam's construction. This led UNESCO to launch a large relief operation on 8 March 1960 to rebuild the rock temple at a site 65 metres higher up. 50 nations were willing to organise financial and technical resources. A total of USD 80 million was collected in a spectacular show of solidarity. This money was used to dismantle, move and rebuild the rock temples between 1963 and 1968. This rescue operation, which was unique at the time, made one thing clear: There are sites whose importance is so great that they do not solely belong to the state on whose territory they are located. Should the world loose these highly valuable sites to dereliction or destruction, this diminishes the heritage of all people. As a result, the member states of UNESCO adopted the " Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage " (World Heritage Convention) to protect sites of "Outstanding Universal Value" in 1972.
What makes the World Heritage Convention unique?
The World Heritage Convention is the most successful international instrument for preserving cultural and natural heritage. It protects important landmarks as common heritage for humankind by means of international cooperation and promotes the preservation of cultural and natural sites. It raises awareness amongst people about the value of their own heritage and that of other cultures. The idea of World Heritage represents a modern understanding of culture and promotes dialogue and cooperation. As a result, the World Heritage Convention makes a contribution towards understanding between cultures and aids the building of trust and confidence between nations.