Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Press releases of UNESCO on Preah Vihear

The Director-General of UNESCO names Koïchiro Matsuura as Special Envoy on Preah Vihear

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, has named Koïchiro Matsuura as Special Envoy to address the issue of Preah Vihear.

Mr Matsuura, former Director-General of UNESCO, will visit Bangkok and Phnom Penh to discuss how the World Heritage site can be safeguarded. He will examine with both sides how to lessen tension and promote dialogue around the preservation of the Temple, within the Organization's mandate.
The Director-General informed Cambodia and Thailand about Mr Matsuura's mission.
Preah Vihear Temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008 on the grounds of its outstanding universal value. States Parties to UNESCO's World Heritage Convention of 1972 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".
Cambodia and Thailand are both signatories to the Convention.

UNESCO Director-General to send Special Envoy to Bangkok and Phnom Penh

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova regretted the continuing tension between Cambodia and Thailand over the issue of the Temple of Preah Vihear. “The world’s cultural heritage should never be a cause for conflict,” she said.

She announced that she would shortly send a Special Envoy on a mission of good offices to Bangkok and Phnom Penh, following appropriate consultations with both capitals.
The Director-General also stated that any assessment mission to the Preah Vihear site could only take place once calm has been restored to the area.
Meanwhile, UNESCO is in close touch with senior officials of both countries.
The temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Dedicated to Shiva, is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800-metre-long axis; it dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. The site is exceptional for the quality of its carved stone ornamentation and its architecture, adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple.


Director-General expresses alarm over escalation of violence between Thailand and Cambodia

Temple of Preah Vihear - © UNESCO/A. Clayson

UNESCO Director- General Irina Bokova expressed her deep concern at the sudden escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand on the issue of the Temple of Preah Vihear, inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Reports indicate that troops on either side have exchanged fire resulting in the loss of life and also some damage to the temple.
The Director-General expresses her distress at this sudden turn of events and calls upon both sides to exercise restraint for the sake of the preservation of the Temple of Preah Vihear and open direct channels of communication at the highest levels to defuse the tension.

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