Friday, March 27, 2015


UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  It is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose purpose is to promote international collaboration to further fundamental freedom.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place recognized for special cultural or physical significance.  "Place" can be a building, a city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument or mountain.  The selection process is a difficult one.  Being listed as a World Heritage Site is a big deal as some funding is provided plus it brings lots of tourists.

There are currently 1,031 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Italy has the most with 51 sites.  Followed by China (48), Spain (44), France (41), Germany (40), Mexico (33) and India (32).  Only twice have sites been removed for failing to maintain strict standards.  Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was removed in 2007 and Germany's Dresden Elbe Valley was removed in 2009.
UNESCO Sites in Czechland

Czech Republic is fortunate to have 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

- Historic Centre of Český Krumlov
- Historic Centre of Prague
- Historic Centre of Telč
- Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora
- Kutná Hora: Historical Town Centre with the Church of St. Barbara and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec
- Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape
- Gardens and Castle at Kroměříž
- Holašovice Historic Village
- Litomyšl Castle
- Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc
- Tugendhat Villa in Brno
- Jewish Quarter and St. Procopius' Basilica in Třebíč

In the 1990s, the United States Congress enacted laws that require an automatic funding cutoff for any United Nations agency that accepts Palestine as a member.  Well Palestine joined UNESCO and in 2011 the USA (and Israel) began withholding financial support.  By withholding dues for two years, both the USA and Israel lost its votes in the UNESCO General Assembly back in 2013.

The lack of U.S. support has had a huge impact on UNESCO's ability to promote freedom of expression, press freedom, gender equality, clean water, and education programs for girls throughout the world.  These are key things that the USA should want to have a voice in and now don't.  The Obama administration has tried to change the laws to allow for UNESCO funding but it hasn't been successful in Congress.  These laws need to be changed before Palestine joins other U.N. agencies such as the World Health Organization.

Update:  July 2019, two new Czech locations were designated World Heritage Sites.
In 1945, UNESCO was created in order to respond to the firm belief of nations, forged by two world wars in less than a generation, that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.
UNESCO strives to build networks among nations that enable this kind of solidarity, by:
  • Mobilizing for education: so that every child, boy or girl, has access to quality education as a fundamental human right and as a prerequisite for human development.
  • Building intercultural understanding: through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity. UNESCO created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value.
  • Pursuing scientific cooperation: such as early warning systems for tsunamis or trans-boundary water management agreements, to strengthen ties between nations and societies.
  • Protecting freedom of expression: an essential condition for democracy, development and human dignity.
- See more at:

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