Thailand to maintain World Heritage Committee membership

Saturday, 15 October 2011 By  MCOT

BANGKOK, Oct 13 --- Thailand resolved to retain its status in the World Heritage Committee, according to Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

Mr Surapong’s announcement came after Thursday meeting of Thailand’s National Committee on the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Thailand, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Pol Gen Kowit Wattana.

At the meeting, the panel agreed that Thailand should remain a member of the World Heritage Committee, the minister said, adding that the decision will be proposed to the Cabinet next week for further consideration.

However, the ministry will wait for an International Court of Justice ruling on the disputed area adjoining ancient Preah Vihear temple.

After the court ruling, the ministry and officials concerned will prepare an action plan and set up a sub-committee to compile and summarise the issue for Cabinet consideration.

The foreign minister said that Thailand’s departure from the World Heritage Convention in June decided by former Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti did not damage the country as the withdrawal was made unofficially. Therefore, Thailand remains a member of the World Heritage Committee.

In late June, Thailand announced its departure from the World Heritage Convention, after the World Heritage Committee failed to heed its request seeking postponement of Cambodia's unilaterally-proposed Preah Vihear temple management plan, as Thailand feared that it might threaten its national sovereignty.

As the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) offered the Thai authorities emergency assistance for historic sites affected by heavy flooding, the offer can be seen as indicating that Thailand is still a member of the UNESCO committee, Mr Surapong explained.

In a related development, Minister of Culture Sukumol Kunplome said that UNESCO granted US$75,000 to rehabilitate the flood-affected historical sites in the historic former Siamese capital of Ayutthaya. The minister said that officials concerned will assess the damages at the historical sites after the floodwaters recede.

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