In contemporary society, everything has meaning. As the years as passed, more and more places have been added to the World Heritage list, but why or how? There are specific criteria which must be met for a site to be added to the special list, but with these requirements how can any be rejected when defended in one way or another.
(i) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
(ii) to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
(iii) to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
(iv) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
(v) to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
(vi) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
(vii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
(viii) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
(ix) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
(x) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.
My question is, who created this list of requirements and what made them qualified to do so? My second question is how one site of significance can be rejected while others accepted.
A prime example would be sites significant to American citizens would be Elm Street or Ford’s Theater because those held emotional times in the United States history. For those who are unaware; Elm Street was where President JFK was assassinated and Ford Theater where President Lincoln was murdered. These would fit under the third requirement, by changing America’s views on these specific places. People gather around these sites each year to celebrate their lives. While the island where Nelson Mandela is on the World Heritage list. How are one country’s beliefs going to be more important than another’s? I have been trying to better understand the politics of how sites are formed.
Turns out the process is very tedious, and each site is overviewed multiple times, so maybe after all there is more reason than I or anyone else may believe.
Each site that is nominated is viewed through different committees. However, if UNESCO’s World Heritage Center declines these sites, it goes to the tentative list, losing its hopes of being an official site. Sites that are put on the tentative list are able to go for another nomination the following year. So again, why can’t these sites be voted as World Heritage sites by the people? In truth who knows or cares more for domestic sites than the people themselves. It is important that the voice continues to lie with the people of the countries versus the political viewpoint. As long as sites must go through a political standpoint, there will always be a bias that comes along with it. That may be why other countries may have more sites than others, Italy leads the World Heritage list with 49 sites or maybe their sites meet the criteria better than others, who knows. The point is, it is important that whether or not a site gets voted in or not the significance of the site does not leave. Whoever and whatever finalizes these deals holds an important power, and it might be time these regulations change, to better the future of other current and future sites.