UNESCO Approves Jordan’s Right to Protect Sites in E. Jerusalem
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UNESCO Approves Jordan’s Right to Protect Sites in E. Jerusalem

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has voted 14-1 with five abstentions to accept Jordan’s request to place East Jerusalem on UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee List. The vote, which took place last Friday after a two-day debate here, in effect recognizes Jordan’s right to take part in the international supervision of cultural and historical sites in East Jerusalem.

Those voting for Jordan’s request were: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Egypt, Iraq, Cyprus, Guinea, Jordan, Libya, Nepal, Senegal, Tunisia, Zaire and Pakistan. The United States voted against the request. The five countries abstaining were: Australia (which chaired the meeting), France, Italy, West Germany and Switzerland. Israel was barred from the debate because it is not among the 60 countries which signed the convention which established the list of historical and cultural sites worthy of international protection under the administration of UNESCO.


The two-day debate centered around a convention article which states: “Inclusion of a property on the World Heritage List requires consent of the state concerned.” Those supporting the Jordanian claim cited another article in the convention which states: “The inclusion of a property situated in a territory, sovereignty or jurisdiction which is claimed by more than one state, shall in no way prejudice the rights of the parties to the dispute.”

The U.S. delegate argued that Jordan had no right to propose East Jerusalem as a site which it should protect because Israel had de facto control of the area and, therefore, was the “state concerned” according to the convention article. The Jordanian delegate argued that its request was not designed to further its claims on East Jerusalem but only to help protect the holy sites there. Switzerland’s delegate argued that neither Jordan nor Israel was the “state concerned” as the status of the area was undetermined. The U.S. delegate rebuked UNESCO for turning a purely cultural convention into a political tool.

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