States, Governance and the Politics of Culture

World Heritage in Asia

Authored by: William Logan

Routledge Handbook of Heritage in Asia

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415600453
eBook ISBN: 9780203156001
Adobe ISBN: 9781136582042


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Following the 34th Session of the World Heritage Committee session in Brasilia in July–August 2010, there are now 936 properties on the World Heritage List – 725 cultural, 183 natural and twenty-eight mixed. Of these, 198 properties or 22 per cent of the list are located within UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Region. Some 138 Asia-Pacific properties are cultural, fifty-one are natural properties and nine are mixed. However, despite the obvious popularity of the list that these figures show, there has been much criticism of the World Heritage system in recent years, coming from within as well as outside the system. Much of this is useful critique aimed at identifying problems and proposing solutions. Often, though, criticism is directed at UNESCO without taking into account its character as an intergovernmental organisation (IGO) and the limitations that this places on its work. Often, too, the criticisms would be better placed at the feet of the States Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention upon whose goodwill and collaboration the functioning of the World Heritage system ultimately depends. Criticisms of decisions taken by UNESCO, the World Heritage Committee and the World Heritage Centre need to be balanced by a clearer recognition of the governance arrangements and limitations not only within these three entities but also within the various States Parties themselves.

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