April 19th, in Paris, UNESCO signed an agreement with Poland on the organization of 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee. Signing on behalf of UNESCO was the Director-General Irina Bokova, with the Culture and National Heritage Minister Prof. Piotr Gliński representing Poland.

Photo: Embassy of the Republic of Poland in France

April 20th, in Warsaw, a press conference was held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage during which representatives of the organizers discussed the details of the event.

We are expecting about two thousand participants (...) This is the largest international event organized by the Polish Government this year. It is similar to the events that have been organized by the government in the previous year – the World Youth Days and the NATO summit. Poland is well prepared for this project. – said the Minister of Culture, Prof. Piotr Gliński.

Konferencja prasowa 20_04_2017
Photo: D.Matloch

The conference was also attended by Deputy Minister of Culture and National Heritage, General Conservator of Monuments, Plenipotentiary of MCNH for the organization of 41st session Prof. Magdalena Gawin; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Dziedziczak; Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Jarosław Zieliński; Police Commander in Chief, Super-inspector of Police Dr Jarosław Szymczyk; Chairman of the 41st session, Chairman of the Polish Committee for UNESCO, Director of the International Cultural Center Prof. Jacek Purchla and Director of the National Institute of Heritage Prof. Małgorzata Rozbicka.

The 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee will take place between 2-12 July 2017 in Kraków

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee sessions are annual international meetings of the 21 member states of the Committee, covering the practical application of the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Attending in the role of observers are also government representatives from nearly 170 States Parties of the Convention and representatives of non-governmental organizations affiliated to UNESCO. The Committee meetings take place according to a formally pre-agreed format and programme. Since 1977, they have taken place in different cities around the world. Poland, as a State Party of the Convention and member of the Committee, has the honour of organising and leading the 41st Session, which will take place in Kraków. The focus of the event, the same as in previous years, will be to make decisions relating to adding new items onto the World Heritage List as well as to review and to evaluate protection of the sites already inscribed.

Plenary sessions of the Committee and parallel events

The 41st Session programme includes plenary sessions of the Committee and parallel events such as: the Young Professionals Forum and – organised for the first time by Poland in partnership with UNESCO – the Forum of World Heritage Site Managers and Civil Society Meeting.

Common responsibility

Developing the programme of events running alongside one another, the organisers were focused on the notion of common responsibility for the protection of natural and cultural treasures, which derives directly from the content of the Convention. World heritage is a priceless set of values which belongs to the whole of humanity – it belongs to us all, thereby also making us all (government representatives but also local communities) responsible for preserving it for the benefit of future generations.

According to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova: UNESCO world heritage holds a strong and positive vision of humanity, united around shared values and common history. At a time when culture and people are under attack in too many parts of the world, we need to foster this vision and this is the purpose of the Kraków meeting this year, to unite4heritage and strengthen a sense of a shared humanity.

According to Prof Piotr Gliński, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage: Poland, as an active member of UNESCO, fully supports the work being done to preserve world heritage sites. For the sake of our globe, now marked by the tragedy of Aleppo and Palmyra, the rebuilding of Warsaw and the painstaking reconstruction of its unique architecture at the end of WWII send a positive message to all those who have lost their cities as a result of military conflict. Destruction does not have to mean the permanent end of a city's existence, but can be the excuse for its restoration.

Common responsibility was also the idea behind the selection of the logo for the 41st Session
of the WHC. The arrows pointing inwards to form a circular shape symbolise a shared aim and collaboration. They also represent the meeting of delegates from all corners of the world at discussions and illustrate the format of the meeting: plenary sessions (the whole logo) as well as parallel events (separate arrows), which then form the whole of the Session. The project was developed by students of the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw.

Organizer and co-organizers

The official organiser of the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee, on behalf of the Polish government, is the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, which will host the event in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, along with the city of Kraków itself and in cooperation with the Polish National Commission for UNESCO. Representing the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in organising and coordinating the Session is the National Heritage Board of Poland.

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