Friday, 4 March 2011

UNESCO Special Envoy meets Thai and Cambodian leaders

via CAAI

Thursday, 3 March 2011
Press Release: UNESCO

UNESCO Special Envoy for Preah Vihear meets Thai and Cambodian leaders

Paris, 2 March - UNESCO Special Envoy Koïchiro Matsuura met with leaders from Thailand and Cambodia to discuss ways to safeguard the World Heritage site of Preah Vihear, during his visits to Bangkok and Phnom Penh between 27 February and 1 March. Mr Matsuura travelled to the two capitals at the request of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, with whom he remained in close contact throughout the mission.

In Bangkok, Mr Matsuura met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya, and National Resources and Environment Minister Siwit Khunkitti. The Special Envoy was also received by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

In the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, Mr Matsuura met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. He was also received by HM King Norodom Sihamoni.

During his discussions in both capitals, Mr Matsuura stressed the need to create the conditions necessary for the safeguarding of the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple. Mr Matsuura, a former UNESCO Director-General and Chair of the World Heritage Committee (1998-1999), expressed the hope for a lasting dialogue between the two countries with a view to establishing long-term sustainable conservation of the site.

The UNESCO Special Envoy did not travel to Preah Vihear during his mission.

Following the conclusion of Mr Matsuura's mission, Irina Bokova expressed her satisfaction that the meetings had taken place and stated that UNESCO would do everything in its power to maintain the dialogue. She reiterated her statement made just before the Special Envoy's mission that "the world's cultural heritage should never be a cause for conflict."

The 11th century temple of Preah Vihear was inscribed on the World Heritage List for its outstanding universal value in keeping with the 1972 World Heritage Convention, which has been ratified by both Cambodia and Thailand.

In keeping with the Convention, States parties undertake to recognize that "such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate."

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