Sunday, April 15, 2007

34 New U.S. Sites for World Heritage Consideration

Thirty-four new sites are being proposed for consideration for addition to the existing 20 U.N. World Heritage sites in the United States. Each nation provides a tentative list of possible sites, and later is allowed to submit formal nominations with detailed studies for sites to be considered by the World Heritage Committee. The preliminary list is required by the 1972 World Heritage Treaty, which was proposed and ratified by the United States. A careful decision process is carried out, with external advice from international agencies, before sites are added to the the World Heritage list (which currently has 830 entries).

The National Park Service is responsible for compiling the tentative list from the United States, and does so with inputs from other U.S. government agencies and owners of property who wish that it be nominated. The tentative list of 72 sites from the United States was last revised in 1990.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the United States - including elected officials - have no idea how, or by whom, the list was formulated, why it is being proposed, or what the significance of listing may be. The National Park Service does not seem to have opened the process to public comment, nor has the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO been invited to take part in the selection process.

Editorial comment: The list, as one might expect from the National Park Service, is quite strong on natural heritage sites, including some strong nominations from the Fish and Wildlife Service. To this observer, it seems weaker in terms of cultural heritage. The Nation Mall and Memorial Parks might for example have been listed to celebrate the United States contribution to the world heritage of freedom, equality and democratic governance. JAD

No comments: