In 2012 the UNESCO World Heritage Convention celebrates its 40th Anniversary. Here a reminder of how it all began and some of the purposes and philosophies behind the Convention and the UNESCO World Heritage List.
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It can be said that the World Heritage Convention and the World Heritage List have been hugely successful and influential. Heritage protection, conservation and awareness about our natural and cultural roots have made much progress over these past forty years.
It was however only in 1962 when the UNESCO’s World Heritage programme began to take form. As it is often the case, sometimes real threats are necessary to open our eyes. Likewise, it was in 1959 that the governments of Egypt and Sudan finally realised that without international assistance, the great monuments in Nubia and Philae could not be rescued from permanent loss by inundation, as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam. They eventually turned to UNESCO for help and consequently on 8 March 1960 UNESCO’s first campaign to save our common heritage was launched (UNESCO, 1982: 57).
Text and Photograph by Jan Haenraets