Current Affairs - UNESCO



World Heritage Alliance Launched

In November the United Nations Foundation and Expedia announced the launch of the World Heritage Alliance, an innovative joint initiative to promote sustainable tourism and awareness of World Heritage sites and communities around the world. This partnership believes conscientious travellers can contribute directly to nature conservation, historic preservation, and poverty reduction through sustainable tourism.

There are currently 812 designated World Heritage sites that span 137 countries and offer an extraordinary range of travel experiences. These sites have been internationally recognized for their outstanding value and are protected by the 1972 World Heritage Convention, signed by 180 countries and administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

World Heritage sites include many of the most iconic travel spots on the planet, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the Egyptian Pyramids; the Taj Mahal in India; England's Stonehenge; the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador; and 20 sites in the United States, including Yellowstone and the Statue of Liberty. But the list also encompasses scores of lesser-known places of singular importance, including Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo; the Buddhist Borobudur Temple Compounds in Central Java, Indonesia; the archaeologically rich Orkhon Valley in Mongolia; and the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand, home to more than 125 separate species of birds.

The World Heritage Alliance aims to:

About the United Nations Foundation

The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations' causes. The UN Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations. Through grant-making and building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the UN Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

For more information, please visit:

Contents >

ECHO Wishes UNESCO a Happy Diamond Anniversary

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), marked its 60th anniversary on Wednesday 16 November with a call for world peace and the respect of human diversity. The constitution of the UNESCO was prepared by a conference convened in London in 1945 and UNESCO came into being on 4 November 1946. UNESCO's primary aim is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication to make war unthinkable. Today there are 191 members and six observer status nations. Meanwhile, a two-day symposium of some 60 historians, anthropologists and philosophers, gathered in the Paris (France) to reflect on the UNESCO's mission and its goals for the next five years. Born from an agreement signed by 37 countries in London, exactly 60 years ago, the UN's cultural organisation is probably best known around the globe for its list of over 800 protected World Heritage Sites. They notably include the Abu Simbel temple complex near Aswan on the upper Nile, for which UNESCO mounted a spectacular rescue operation in the 1960s and 70s, after Egypt decided to build a dam that would have put the 3,300 year-old masterpieces under water.

Contents >

United Nations- Egyptian Heritage Commemorative Stamps

In August the United Nations printed a commemorative edition of stamps celebrating Egyptian cultural heritage as part of their World Heritage series ( The United Nations Postal Administration issued a set of six commemorative stamps and three prestige booklets on the theme 'World Heritage - Egypt'. This is the eleventh United Nations stamp issue to illustrate World Heritage sites. It is the ninth in a series of stamps and prestige booklets focusing on either one specific World Heritage site or a group of World Heritage sites in one geographical location. The sites to be included are: Memphis and its Necropolis - the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur (37c stamp), Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis (80c stamp), Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae (F.s.1,00 stamp), Islamic Cairo (F.s.1,30 stamp), Abu Mina (€ 0,55 stamp) and the Saint Katherine area (€ 0,75 stamp). These stamps are part of UNESCO's 60th anniversary celebrations (see this fascinating article on the Al Ahram Weekly website for more details of the celebrations

Contents >

UNESCO World Heritage Convention Guidelines

In April 2000 a working group was held in Canterbury, England to initiate the redrafting of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The purpose for this redrafting was to:

  • Improve the logical sequence of the various parts of the document.
  • To make the Guidelines more user-friendly for all those who work with the conservation of World Heritage properties.

These revised Guidelines have now been submitted to the Chairperson of the 27th Session of the World Heritage Committee for approval. These new Guidelines should help promote greater understanding and application of the 1972 World Heritage Convention. They should form the basis for higher standards in the identification, nomination and more effective protection and monitoring of WH properties.

The revision of the Guidelines has involved many formal written consultations with state parties, several drafting meetings and close collaboration with the advisory bodies, ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN. A policy review of the procedures for inclusion of properties on the List of World Heritage in danger was also undertaken during the drafting of the Guidelines and also the possible deletion of properties from the WH list. This policy review resulted in the 6th Extraordinary Committee in March 2003, which decided to keep the existing provisions for endangered listing and deletion, while adding more emphasis on consultation with state parties.

These Guidelines should be made formal during the 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee to be held in Suzhou, china from 28th June to 7th July 2004 (

Contents >

The UNESCO Newsletter (39) - The World Heritage, reports that on the 17-20 February 2003, Egypt's Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Egyptian Natural Commission and the Egyptian National Man & Biosphere (MAB) Committee hosted an international meeting of experts 'Harmonization of the Arab Tentative Lists of Natural World Heritage Sites'. The meeting convened in Cairo to discuss areas that could be of World Heritage value, especially those sites that are serial and transboundary. Egypt, and much of the Near East, is rich in natural areas of beauty, biodiversity and environmental importance. The Wadi Gimal, and the Red Sea Coast is one such area, and is a region that ECHO Trustees are actively trying to get protected.

Contents >

The UNESCO Newsletter (37) - The World Heritage, reports that an assessment of water related damage was made in November 2002 in two areas on the World Heritage List - Ancient Luxor and Abu Mena. The assessment concluded that the water damage at Karnak (see Brand 2001) is relatively limited in comparison with Luxor Temple, where it has affected the foundations (see Johnson 2001: 10). However, the problems at the Coptic monuments at Abu Mena were considered to be the most pressing. Recommendations were made for an action plan that will include political, organisational and engineering solutions.


  • Brand, P. 2001. Rescue epigraphy in the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, Egyptian Archaeology 19: 11-13.
  • Johnson, W. R. 2001 Luxor's Ground water problems, Egyptian Archaeology 19: 10.
Contents >


Current Affairs


The Trustees of ECHO are sad to announce the loss of our beloved friend and colleague Dr. Geoffrey J. Tassie, affectionately known as Tass.

There has been and continues to be illegal encroachment on the UNESCO World Heritage Listed site of Dahshur. The Trustees of ECHO are supporting this petition to try and stop this illegal building activity and so can you, please sign the petition

The ECHO trustees are pleased to announce that ECHO is now a registered charity (number 1142484) this will enable ECHO to continue and develop into the future.

ECHO is now on Facebook

ECHO article detailing the endangered sites in the Faiyum is now available to download as a PDF

Protection of Cultural Heritage in Revolutionary Times: The International Workshop on Prevention of Destruction, Looting and Theft of Cultural Heritage. Cairo, September 2012.
Call for Papers

New Nubian Dams are planned by the Sudanese Government, none of which have the consent of the local population who will be the ones most affected.
Sign the petition to stop the building of these dams

ECHO on Facebook contact ECHO