DECLARATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY
DR. SOK AN
Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee and
Deputy Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia
(Phnom Penh, 14 December 2012)
Twenty years ago, to this very day, on 14 December 1992, in Santa Fe, in the USA, the World Heritage Committee at its 16th session, decided to inscribe ANGKOR on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
That decision, innovative and very courageous for that time, expressed clearly the concern of the international community to cooperate with Cambodia to address effectively and speedily the urgent problems of conservation and safeguarding faced by the many groups of monuments spread throughout an archaeological zone of 40.000 ha, including Roluos, to the south, and Banteay Srey, to the north.
Since then, under the patronage of UNESCO and the joint presidency of FRANCE and JAPAN, international support on a grand scale has been generated involving 16 countries from 4 continents. Some 36 organisations have to date undertaken 64 projects, and expended 250 million USD.
The road travelled has unanimously been acclaimed as exceptional. Before 1993, the date of the TOKYO Conference for ANGKOR and the establishment of the International Coordination Committee (ICC), the site was mined and the monuments were in danger. Illicit traffic in cultural items and organised theft of objects of art were in full spate, while poverty was the lot of the inhabitants of villages on the site.
Since 1993, ANGKOR has seen a complete renaissance. Its safeguarding was recognised as achieved following the 2003 ICC Conference in PARIS, thanks to significant programs to increase cultural appreciation and awareness, economic development and the fight against poverty.
It is indeed in recognition of the actions undertaken by the Royal Government of Cambodia, in scientific, technical and financial partnership with the international community, that the World Heritage Committee decided to hold its 37th session, in June 2013, in PHNOM PENH and ANGKOR.
One cannot fail to see this as one of the major successes of the Convention for World Culural and Natural Heritage, during its 40 years of existence (1972-2012).