UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES AND PROTECTION OF THE HERITAGE

UNESCO which is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was founded in 1946 after the Second World War by United Nations as a private organization. The fundamental purposes of UNESCO are providing global peace by spreading education, science and culture in the world and constituting international dialogues depending on shared common values.

One of the six treaties in the culture sector of UNESCO is World Heritage Treaty in 1972. This treaty is one of the most important referances about protecting cultural and natural assets. The motivational factor of this treaty is moving Abu Simbel Temple which was going to stay under the waters of Aswan Dam in Upper Nile region to an artificial hill with an interantional campaign and bringing countries together to protect common heritage and memory. This first step taken to protect common heritage of mankind is a good example of international dialogue and cooperation. Nubian Monuments which have Abu Simbel Temple among them were recorded on UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

Problems about the protection of all world heritage sites that are listed in UNESCO World Heritage List can ocur due to natural disasters, wrong city planning, degradation in material, inadequacies in national protection policies, negative effects of climate, geological and other environmental factors, war and conflict. Every year in the reports, information is given about the ongoing situation, the protection of the site is evaluated in World Heritage Committee Meeting every year. If necessary, a visit is made to the heritage site by Reactive Observation Council which is composed of experts from UNESCO. During this visit, observations are reported. If the decision after the evaluation in the meetings is that the heritage site is under threat of the mentioned possibilities, the heritage site goes on to the List of Heritage Sites under Threat. If the threat continues and any precautions aren’t taken, the heritage site could be taken off from the list.

Regarding 2016, there are 16 heritage sites/assets of Turkey in UNESCO World Heritage List and 1052 recorded heritage sites/assets in total. The adventages of being recorded in World Heritage List are the increase in the recognition of the site, the development of ecomony in the region or country, the increase in job opportunities. On the other hand, the process of being recorded on the List makes up 30-40% of all the studies, staying on the List is much more difficult. As long as participating countries act according to their responsibilities mentioned in 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Treaty and Operational Guide can stay on the List and protect their heritage sites/assets.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nevra Ertürk
Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University
Conservation and Restoration of Artworks Department

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