The 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee was held from June 28 to July 8 in Bonn, Germany. Representatives from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, attended the session to investigate its trends.
Among the 24 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List in the latest session, 23 are cultural sites and one is a mixed (both natural and cultural) site while there is no natural site. By region, 12 are located in Europe or North America while no property is in Africa except Arabic-speaking northern Africa. In this way, disparities between types of properties or between regions have widened. Meanwhile, industrial heritage sites, such as a railway bridge, dock warehouses, factories for articles of export in high demand globally in the early 20th century, such as nitrogen fertilizers and corned beef, were inscribed on the list, increasing the diversity of cultural properties. As for the nomination from Japan, no remarks were made by committee members during deliberations on the inscription of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan). After adding a footnote to the decision and adopting it as amended, Japan and South Korea respectively read out their statements on the decision, which was a different procedure from normal. One property was deleted from the List of the World Heritage in Danger, while three sites – Hatra (Iraq), the Old City of Sana’a and the Old Walled City of Shibam (both Yemen) –, were added to the list. Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), which was affected by a recent major earthquake, was not inscribed on the list because of the necessity to understand the actual conditions and the Nepalese government’s preference for no inscription of the property.
Meanwhile, as for recommendations deliberated in the session, there were more dialogues made between the Advisory Bodies and respective States Parties over the contents of their respective recommendations. Advice by the Advisory Bodies became more positive, and no major change was made to advice on recommendations receiving a low evaluation from the Advisory Bodies at the session. In addition, the upstream process, in which the Advisory Bodies or the World Heritage Centre provide States Parties with technical assistance for drawing up recommendations and other issues at their request, was institutionalized at the session. In this way, support measures for inscription on the World Heritage List were enhanced, but the Centre and Advisory Bodies have pointed out that some States Parties are not utilizing such support. The World Heritage Centre is making efforts to raise its operational efficiency, but there are limitations to such efforts. All States Parties need to realize the fact that their respective cooperation is necessary to maintain the World Heritage framework.