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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

 

What to study?

For Prelims: UNESCO WHS- important sites.

For Mains: Significance and the need for conservation of WHS.

 

Context: The Orchha town of Madhya Pradesh has been included in tentative list of the World Heritage Sites of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

 

About Orchha Town:

  • It is Situated on the banks of the river Betwa, in Niwari district of Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Significance: The town is celebrated for its rich and ancient architecture of Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha Fort Complex, and Raja Mahal among others. It is famous for its two elevated minarets – Saavan and Bhadon; and four palaces – Jahangir Palace, Rai Praveen Mahal, Raja Mahal, and Sheesh Mahal.
  • The site houses ‘Sri Ram Raja Mandir’. It is the only place in India where Lord Ram is worshipped as a King, not as a deity, with this dedicated temple in his name.

 

UNESCO world heritage site:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.

The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.

Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.

 

Selection of a site:

To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.

 

Legal status of designated sites:

UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site provides prima facie evidence that such culturally sensitive sites are legally protected pursuant to the Law of War, under the Geneva Convention, its articles, protocols and customs, together with other treaties including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.

 

What are endangered sites?

  • A site may be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger if there are conditions that threaten the characteristics for which the landmark or area was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Such problems may involve armed conflict and war, natural disasters, pollution, poaching, or uncontrolled urbanization or human development.
  • This danger list is intended to increase international awareness of the threats and to encourage counteractive measures. Threats to a site can be either proven imminent threats or potential dangers that could have adverse effects on a site.
  • The state of conservation for each site on the danger list is reviewed on a yearly basis, after which the committee may request additional measures, delete the property from the list if the threats have ceased or consider deletion from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List.

 

Sources: the Hindu.