Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Second Thai candidate makes it to UN Heritage panel

By The Nation
Published on October 28, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Somsuda Leeyavanich, deputy permanent secretary for Culture Ministry, has been chosen to represent Thailand at the 12member World Heritage Committee. She will be joining other new members from Switzerland, Cambodia, South Africa, France, Ethiopia, Mexico, Estonia, Iraq and Mali.

Twentynine countries had put forward names for the new panel, which will be replacing the current one later this year, and will be in office until 2013.

According to Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch, the UN World Heritage agency reportedly had problems deciding on the new panel because both Thailand and Cambodia - currently in a dispute over the Preah Vihear temple - had put forward candidates.

Eventually, though, the UN agency decided to select candidates from both countries as a way to help solve the conflicts. The son of Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong will represent Cambodia.

Somsuda is the second Thai candidate selected to the UN panel, following Adul Wichiencharoen who had served in the panel for two terms.

"From now on, Thailand will play a bigger role in the world stage. More importantly, Somsuda's selection will help push Thai sites to be included in the UN World Heritage listing," Teera said yesterday.

Somsuda will be proposing historical sites to the UN, including the Sriwichai Chaiya - Nakhon Si Thammarat - Sating Phra - Yarang cultural route, Kedah of Malaysia, as well as the Lanna culture.

Initial reports mentioned that the new panel will check out Thai heritage sites in March. It might also visit Preah Vihear.

Thailand is hoping to host the 2011 UN World Heritage Committee meeting, once the summit next year has been hosted by Brazil.

Somsuda, meanwhile, said that she was glad she had been selected and thanked everyone for supporting her. "I will be neutral and work for the benefit of all countries. Sites in many countries have not yet been included in the UN list and I will push for them to be made part of the list," she said.

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