Delegate Name: Kaitlyn Wong
Country Name: Russian Federation
Committee Name: UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization)
Topic: World Heritage Site Selection
UNESCO - World Heritage Site Selection
There are one thousand and seventy-three World Heritage Sites throughout the international community, all of which were created in order to symbolize and recognize the importance of its contribution to human society.
UNESCO was established on November 4th, 1946, through the international treaty regarding the protection of world culture and natural heritage. Its mission is to encourage the collaboration between countries to promote education, science, culture, and communication - the right to education, the ability to have access to scientific advances, the ability to be exposed to various cultures, and the ability to express oneself, respectively. The UN body is known for instituting “World Heritage Sites,” which preserve parts of the world in order to highlight, not only the prowess of humanity and its culture, but the abilities and beauty of the natural Earth. However, to choose which landmarks deserve the recognition as a “World Heritage Site,” countries are required to conjoin and suggest potential candidates. In such processes, there is conflict, as each countries vyes to put their name in the ring, whether be to gain more “bragging rights” or promote tourism. Although this topic is not viewed as a “problem” for the United Nations, such as those that rise from terrorism or climate change, it is one that leads to debate and conflict during its meeting sessions.
Currently, twenty-one states are on the World Heritage Committee, thus giving them direct involvement over the “issue.” There are a variety of countries represented in the committee, leading to a diverse range of opinions and perspectives. Although the World Heritage Committee and its mission to appreciate the accomplishments and creations of both society and nature do not create any negative impacts, it allows for the international community to come together to collaborate everyone’s achievements.
- UN Action:
The united effort to honor parts of the world as “World Heritage Sites” was an idea created by the United Nations, obviously inciting their involvement with the topic since the beginning. Repeatedly, UNESCO has met in their committee sessions, starting from 1981 at UNESCO in Paris, France, until recently in Manama, Bahrain earlier this year to discuss potential World Heritage Sites. Furthermore, they have organized conferences solely dedicated to World Heritage Sites, thus celebrating the ingenuity and capabilities of our human race and Mother Nature. As stated in its goals, UNESCO arranges these to bring together the international community. Although many issues and differences plague the Earth, dividing humans further and further apart, World Heritage Sites provide an opportunity to bring countries together and celebrate each other. Heritage sites that are selected may seem to drive delegations further apart, since a newly selected site may not be located in their own country. The location(s), rather, symbolize a significant part of everyone’s history and “belong to the international community as a whole,” thus inspiring a sense of comradery. Ir is an obligation for all member states to protect and preserve.
Very few groups outside of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee are involved with the matter, since it is mainly a topic of cultural importance. Furthermore, it not a stereotypical “issue” that requires NGO’s or other organs to provide aide. However, as the international community begins to see more and more effects caused by climate change, certain World Heritage Sites are in danger of deterioration, loss of its historical significance, etc. Furthermore, some locations are unfortunately situated near or in war zones, further emphasizing the dangers that are posed on these sites. Thus, the World Heritage Site Committee has been forced to reach out to another division of the UN body, the World Heritage Fund, in order to receive assistance and to ensure the preservation of endangered properties.
- Country Policy:
As of 2017, there are twenty-eight World Heritage Sites in Russia. Although a majority are cultural-based sites, about 40% are natural. The Russian Federation cares deeply about the maintenance and protection of these achievements of both nature and humanity, and thus, are one of the top contributors to the World Heritage Fund, donating 100,823 in US dollars. While we were not one of the first countries to join, such as the United States or Egypt, our country makes up for the time it has lost. The Russian Federation hosted one of the Periodic Reporting for the Asia and Pacific in St. Petersburg during June and July of 2012. Furthermore, throughout the 21st century, we have participated in and even hosted various events to ensure the preservation of these significant sites throughout our world. For example, the country organized and hosted one of the first few WHY Forums, held at Velikiy Novgorod from August 24th-29th, 2002. WHY is the World Heritage Youth Forum, welcoming children from across the world, such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and many more.
Upon concerns brought up by the Director-General and World Heritage Committee Chair regarding issues about World Heritage Sites within the Russian Federation, the country has promptly responded and acted accordingly. For example, the state was to put a pipeline near Lake Baikal, but quickly redirected its course to ensure the safety and preservation of one of the country’s sacred sites. Additionally, we have received support from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee regarding our World Heritage Sites, such as St. Petersburg and Lake Baikal. As thus, the Russian Federation is very much in support of the World Heritage Committee and its work to preserve the greatness of the human and natural world.
The Russian Federation should have at least one place named a “World Heritage Site,” as the country has at least twenty-two locations that are on the “tentative list.” The country has a large span and makes up, at the very least, a majority portion of the landmass of the Eurasian continent. It is easily the biggest country in the world, with Canada trailing far behind. Due to its sprawling territory, Russia has been home to various significant parts of history, ranging from the first fur traders to being home to the advanced technology that put the first human in space. As thus, it is evident that some part of the 6.605 million acres of land in Russia would qualify as a World Heritage Site.
The delegation of the Russian Federation proposes that the treasures of the Pazyryk (Paz-e-rick) culture be instituted as a World Heritage Site. Previously, in 2008, UNESCO stated that the “frozen tombs of the Altai Mountains” must be preserved, due to its cultural significance, history, and relevance to other important civilizations during its time, such as the Han Dynasty or Roman Empire. The UN body hosted an entire workshop dedicated to its survival. Another part of the region was earlier named a World Heritage Site in 1998, the Golden Mountains of Altai. It met the tenth criteria, “to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.” However, such an action is like forgetting a piece of the puzzle. The region and its significance to anthropology, history, science, etc. does not simply end at the Altai Mountains. Its internal features and hidden features must be recognized for their importance as well; thus, the Russian Federation reiterates its proposal to make the Treasures of the Pazyryk Culture a World Heritage Site. It does not meet one meager piece of criteria, but rather, multiple. The most well-known part of the treasures are preserved mummifications with fantastic pieces of art drawn on them. Not only are the art and the longevity of its survival a representation of the “human creative genius,” but the decorations within these tombs were of equal, if not greater, importance. The caverns were composed of logs with double walls and ceilings. The deceased was presented in a wooden sarcophagus carved from a tree. Additionally, the tomb was decorated with household items and other material possessions, similar to the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians. All of these gifts can still be seen today, due to the freezing climate of Russia and its preserving qualities. Additionally, the development and advancement in their architectural feats are evident upon seeing the differing tombs created within the Altai region, thus meeting the second and fourth points of criteria. The Pazyryk were a group of indigenous people that are no longer among the Russian Federation, only surviving from 600 BCE - 300 BCE, thus representing another piece in the great puzzle of history. It is an excellent example of a unique civilization that has disappeared, thus meeting the third and fifth pieces of criteria. Although they are gone, their culture and its legacy continues on, even after more than 2000 years. Thus, it is mandatory that the United Nations ensure its survival in the future, especially due to the incoming threats of climate change. This wonderful snapchat of history deserves to be appreciated by the international community. Furthermore, the art displayed throughout these treasures vividly depict their traditions of sacrifice, religious devotion, etc., fulfilling the sixth criteria. However, the Treasures of the Pazyryk Culture are not limited to its cultural significance, as it is located within the Golden Mountains of Altai, a hub of biodiversity and unique species, which are the seventh and tenth criteria points. Since these tombs were well-preserved through the ice, there are gases and elements frozen in these tombs, which can be connected to a time period in history and thus showing any changes in atmosphere or environmental composition, which meets the eighth and ninth criteria. Meeting all the essential criteria to become a World Heritage Site, the Treasures of the Pazyryk Culture must be added. The treasures found in this snippet of our past are not found anywhere else. Although places, such as the Egyptian tombs, may contain tombs similar to these, they do not share the same significance. Additionally, its cultural significance is not the Treasures’ only important characteristic, since its surrounding environment remains undisturbed by human forces. There is no controversy about this wonderful part of the Russian Federation and, most importantly, the world. What place could be better than the Treasures of the Pazyryk Culture?
- Works Cited
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