At a Cultural Forum, Attention to the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

Date

2021 02 11

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Today, in an online video conference, a cultural forum organised at the initiative of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Lithuania and UNESCO: Are We Carrying Out Our Promise to Ourselves and to the World? 

During the online video conference, participants discussed the latest developments regarding legal aspects of the protection of UNESCO World Heritage sites of exceptional value in Lithuania, governance problems, and issues regarding promotion of activities, research, education and community involvement.

With the Forum, it was sought to draw attention to a pair of significant anniversaries: this year, we mark the 30th anniversary of Lithuania's joining of UNESCO, and next year we will mark the 30th anniversary of Lithuania's signing of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. However, the Convention's provisions have yet to be incorporated into Lithuania's body of law. Seeking to accelerate resolution of this problem, several possible means of legal regulation were proposed in the Forum, and it was decided to assemble a working group which would present its proposals no later than this summer.

According to the Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys, the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage for the first time put forth the principle that the world's heritage belongs to all humanity, and responsibility for the safeguarding of heritage sites and handing them down to future generations is not just a matter for the particular country in which such sites happen to be, but also for the entire international community.

“Although it is often attempted in public discussion to portray UNESCO as a collection of restrictions, I am pleased to note that more and more often, we see that this organisation is treated with great respect, for the opportunities it provides and for the potential it presents for tourism. When speaking about UNESCO, we often focus on heritage, but we too often forget that this organisation covers a broader spectrum of issues.

I am pleased that in today’s discussion, there was clearly an understanding, when speaking about UNESCO, that we should place greater emphasis on sustainable development and quality, which are quite near and dear to contemporary society and the state. So I invite us all to see the UNESCO Convention as a tremendous opportunity to take a significant step forward, an opportunity to renew our appreciation for the significance of World Heritage status and the responsibility that comes with it,” said the Minister Kairys.

Four Lithuanian heritage sites have been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Vilnius Historic Centre, Curonian Spit, Kernavė Archaeological Site and Struve Geodetic Arc. Kaunas Modernist Architecture has also been submitted for consideration to be inscribed on the List.

EPA-ELTA photograph