In July 2009, the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signed the agreement on the establishment, in Bahrain, of an Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) as a Category II Centre under the auspices of UNESCO.
The Centre was established as an autonomous and independent legal entity at the service of Arab States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. It was inaugurated by H.E. Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture, in December 2011.
The Centre collaborates with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies (ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN) on the basis of the decisions and recommendations of the World Heritage Committee. It also partners with responsible institutions in the region to federate energies around the conservation, promotion and presentation of cultural and natural heritage. The purpose is to balance and increase the representation of Arab States’ properties on the World Heritage List, promote better protection and management of these properties, mobilize regional and international financial support, and raise awareness about World Heritage in the region.
The Centre’s mandate comes as a response to regional needs and priorities in relation to main focus areas defined by UNESCO, particularly in its Draft Medium Term Strategy for 2014-2021 (37 C/4). More specifically, the Centre addresses key issues including ongoing political transformations and conflicts that affect several Arab States, inadequacy of institutional and legislative tools needed for effective World Heritage Programme implementation, limited awareness and support from the region’s decision makers, and limited human and technical capacities within national agencies responsible for the implementation of the Convention.
The Centre’s mission is to enhance the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in Arab States for the benefit of World Heritage Sites in the region.
The Centre shall achieve its strategic approach through several functions. It acts as:
In line with the principles of the World Heritage Convention, the ARC-WH shall promote more interlinkage between cultural and natural heritage in the region by:
To better respond to the specific priorities of the region, the Centre shall adopt two parallel strategic tracks for cultural heritage and natural heritage.
The Centre’s Cultural Heritage Programme shall focus on three strategic objectives:
Consolidate existing representation of properties on the World Heritage List and improve management effectiveness through the promotion of good governance and strong law enforcement;
The Centre’s Natural Heritage Programme shall focus on three strategic objectives:
To fulfil the above-mentioned objectives, a set of annual activities shall be discussed, prioritized and implemented in collaboration with partners and target groups. These activities shall be organized in one consolidated annual Action Plan that will be submitted to the Centre’s Governing Board for approval. The Action Plan shall be associated with a set of result based indicators to help the Centre assess its performance and impacts on the region’s World Heritage as well as its alignment with international trends and priorities. It will also facilitate the external evaluation that will be undertaken in conformity with the agreement between the Government of Bahrain and UNESCO.
The Centre shall pursue its objectives and functions in close coordination with existing UNESCO entities (the World Heritage Centre in Paris and UNESCO offices in the region), initiatives and programmes.
The implementation of the strategy shall take different forms and approaches and utilize diverse tools and mechanisms according to priority areas at national, sub-regional and regional levels. A fully participative approach shall be adopted by the Centre to define the various activities implemented. The Centre should collaborate with all stakeholders, partners and interest groups, particularly to promote sustainable development, to enhance the role of local communities and to raise awareness about World Heritage.
The implementation of the strategy shall follow a careful prioritization process that aims at balancing the Center’s strategic scope with needed interventions and available human and financial resources. Additional efforts will be undertaken to mobilize necessary resources by means of national and international mechanisms.
The ARC-WH prepared and presented the report documenting the n
The Arab States Region continues to face tremendous challenges in r