The United States has expressed "profound disappointment" over the decision of the World Heritage Commission to take immediate, emergency action to inscribe the Church of the Nativity as a World Heritage Site.
Responding to a question at the Daily Press Briefing on Monday, US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the decision was taken "against the official recommendation of the International Council of Monuments and Sites, the expert body that evaluated the site, and without any input from the folks who administer the site now: the Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox authorities." Being the custodians of the site, they should have been properly consulted, Nuland said, adding that Washington does "have concerns about what is happening in UNESCO and this case in particular."
Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route in the Palestinian region of Bethlehem, the Birthplace of Jesus Christ, was added to UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger during the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting being held in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
Nuland termed it as "a political move rather than a well thought-out move." She cited that this emergency procedure in the World Heritage Committee has only been used four times in the past, in extreme cases when the site in question was under threat of being torn down. "That was not the case here," she told reporters, questioning "doing it this way, this fast, without consulting the appropriate authorities."
"We wanted to see this handled properly, which would have included taking the advice of the expert advisory body that evaluated the site and talking to the folks who administer the site," Nuland added.
by RTT Staff Writer
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