After a one-year hiatus, the 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, opens on July 16 in Fuzhou, the capital of the eastern Chinese province of Fujian. The session will continue online until 31 July, combining ongoing work and issues remaining unresolved from last year. The enlarged session will be chaired by Mr. Tian Xuejun, Deputy Minister of Education of China and Director of China's National Commission for UNESCO. The session will consider a total of 45 candidates for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

During the session, the Committee will examine the state of conservation of 255 properties already inscribed on the World Heritage List, 53 of which are also on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Beginning on 24 July, the World Heritage Committee will begin its consideration of new nominations for inscription on the World Heritage List, starting with applications that could not be considered last year. According to the information on the official website of UNESCO, to date, the World Heritage Committee has added 1,121 sites in 167 countries to the World Heritage List. A committee composed of representatives from 21 States parties to the World Heritage Convention is responsible for the implementation of the Convention. In addition, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will attend the opening session.

Turkmenistan, which has a unique tangible and intangible cultural heritage, actively cooperates with UNESCO in its preservation and popularization in the world. The UNESCO World Heritage List includes the world-famous historical monuments of Ancient Merv, Kunyaurgench and Ancient Nisa, and the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes the destan art "Gorogly", the ritual dance "Kushtdepdi", as well as the Turkmen national art of carpet weaving.

In the fall of last year, the Regulations on the National Commission of Turkmenistan for UNESCO in a new edition, including its composition, were approved. At the first meeting of the National Commission, the draft Joint Action Plan for 2021-2023 was considered.

Among them are unique national schools associated with Akhal-Teke horse breeding and breeding of dogs of the Alabai breed, as well as with dutar, as a vivid symbol of Turkmen culture, under which the art of making this musical instrument, performing and the art of bakhshi are combined. The nomination “Craftsmanship of dutar making and traditional musical performance combined with singing” in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is planned for the end of 2021, when the meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage will take place.

A number of other nominations are next in line. This is a group nomination of monuments located along the main routes of the Great Silk Road, between such ancient Turkmen cities as Dehistan, Nisa, Merv, Serakhs, Amul, Kunyaurgench. Work is underway to prepare preliminary nomination dossiers for inclusion in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of felt art and blacksmith's craft, the Turkmen greyhound tazy and a hunting falcon. Together with Iran, a project is being promoted to include the art of Turkmen embroidery in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed on April 15 of this year between Turkmenistan and UNESCO on the Action Plan for 2021-2023. provides for the expansion of productive interaction not only in the protection of historical and cultural heritage, but also in other important areas. It is planned to carry out close cooperation both in the protection of national cultural monuments and in the spheres of education, science, culture, water resources management, statistics and sports.

Ogulgozel Rejepova

UNESCO World Heritage Committee opens in China (turkmenistan.gov.tm)