Thursday, 7 July 2011

WHC Fuss in Thailand

Thailand has been a state party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (1972) since 1987. At the moment it has five sites (3 historical, including Ban Chiang, two natural) on the World Heritage List, and was preparing other sites for referral in an effort to boost tourism. Despite this, Bangkok Pundit is reporting that: 'Thailand leaves UNESCO World Heritage Convention', Jun 27, 2011.

This is all about that Preah Vihear site, a Khmer temple, on the disputed border between that country and Cambodia (one of Cambodia's two cultural sites on the WHL, the other is Siem reap- Angkor Wat). The Preah Vihear site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008 after being referred by the Cambodian government a year earlier. The fuss about this site has been going on for a while now. The Thai government is angered by this and about a week ago informed the World Heritage Council that Thailand was renouncing the World Heritage Convention because, according to Suwit Khunkitti, the Thai representative to the World Heritage Committee the committee:
“did not care about our sovereignty and territory [...] “They cared only about the conservation of the temple.
which makes one wonder what the silly man thought the World Heritage Convention was about.

Accession to the Convention is not about exploiting UNESCO resources to boost 'cultural tourism' income, but expressing an obligation towards the preservation of the World's heritage. Perhaps cultural tourists should keep well away from countries like Thailand who seem not really to appreciate this fact.

Vignette: Dimwit Khunkitti.

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