Monday, June 25, 2007

Unesco and World Heritage

UNESCO is meeting in New Zealand to decide which sites to add to its World Heritage list -and also to its "endangered" list. Sites vying for endangered status include the Tower of London, the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu in Peru. The committee must decide if they are at risk from war, tourism, overdevelopment or neglect.

Campaigners say the UN must take urgent action to protect six World Heritage sites, including Mount Everest, from the impact of climate change.

Putting endangered sites on UNESCO list doesn't guarantee they can be out of risk even if they are recognized to be so. In Morocco, Fes city has been on the list of world heritage for more than 20 years. Yet many old houses are still crumbling because there aren't enough funds to restore them. Marrakesh, being on the list, is a success story thanks to the restoration of the old city houses by the Europeans who bought them. The local authorities mainly work to restore its ancient ramparts.

But there are other places around the world that don’t catch the eye as a heritage because of their notoriety and they’d better be forgotten. Yet , they must be a part of collective memories for generations to remember. From the Second World War rose the holocaust memorial and the Berlin Wall. Today, Notorious prisons like Guantanamo and Abu Gharib should be on the list to remind people of what man has made of man and to serve as an example of what extreme measures by detainers and detainees can lead to.

For the preservation of sites, natural or monumental, We shouldn't focus just on sites that can be of tourist values as they have all the chances to be restored. There are other sites that will remain neglected because they need huge funds or they exist in unknown zones. Big Ben is world famous. How many know about Bab Mansour in Meknes?

Above all, there are ways of life that are threatened because of globalisation. Some of these ways have become just tourist curiosity. People keep to them just for tourist attraction. They in a sort become just actors, acting their own reality for gain and not out of conviction. We can preserve sites. They are static. But sometimes, it becomes difficult to preserve a culture because the people who should make it a part of their lives don’t want to look archaic. They want to move with time. So it is no wonder if we have museums with effigies and pictures of people whose lifestyle has become extinct.

Preserving local cultures should go in parallel with preserving sites and monuments. Monuments are after all the result of a culture. Both should be preserved for the enrichment of human knowledge and to make the world more diverse.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Yeah, I think those houses should be well preserved. Reminds me so much of some of blackpool guest house in the UK. If Morocco's houses are just maintained properly, they may not only have something to be called as heritage sites but they can also earn income from them.