Ministry of Culture, Gender,
Entertainment and Sport

Government of Jamaica
Culture Minister Notes strides made by Jamaica in World Heritage as the country joins the world in observance of World Heritage Day, April 18
Published by: Wade Edwards
Reference #: myc197
Date Published: Monday 20, Apr 2015

April 17, 2015, Kingston: The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna, is today noting the significant strides made by Jamaica in World Heritage, as the country joins the world in observing World Heritage Day on Saturday, April 18.

In November 2013, under the leadership of Minister Hanna and for the first time since the country became a signatory to the World Heritage Convention in 1983, Jamaica was elected to the World Heritage Committee (WHC). The World Heritage Committee is the body that has direct oversight of the management of World Heritage procedures and activities, including responsibility for the final decisions on the sites that are to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, those to be placed on the Endangered List and management of the World Heritage Fund. Of the 191 Countries which have ratified the Convention, the World Heritage Committee comprises only 21 States Parties. Jamaica was one of twelve States Parties elected to the Committee in 2013 and will serve a four year term which ends in 2017.

Minister Hanna states that Jamaica’s presence in World Heritage is not to be taken lightly as the seat the country occupies is a powerful one - “Jamaica is the only Small Island Developing State that sits on the committee; it means we are the voice of islands in the Caribbean, Asia and Pacific and Africa that are exposed to extreme vulnerabilities which often hinders our ability to effectively participate in World Heritage initiatives. As Committee members we are able to contribute to and influence debates that impact our presence in World Heritage”.  

The Culture Minister adds that Jamaica is also actively strengthening its World Heritage programme having named a local World Heritage Committee which helps provide oversight of the country’s initiatives, including nominations to the World Heritage List.

Minister Hanna is encouraging Jamaicans to make use of the World Heritage Day observance to visit heritage sites and monuments in Jamaica, particularly sites listed on UNESCO’s Tentative List including the Blue and John Crow Mountains, which are up for nomination in June 2015; the Underwater Archaeology of Port Royal and Seville Heritage Park in St. Ann. She is especially imploring schools, parents and guardians to build the awareness of children and youth in this emerging area of cultural heritage.

“There is merit and a need to involve our young people in this discourse on global heritage. I was able to participate in a recent Youth Leadership Training Workshop on World Heritage hosted by the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO, in partnership with UNESCO and the Ministry of Youth and Culture and I am encouraged. Young people are eager to participate in initiatives like this; they are genuinely proud of the distinctive cultural heritage of this nation and want nothing more than to share in the sustained growth of our tangible and intangible heritage assets”.

Minister Hanna is lauding the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for presenting the idea of highlighting a day on which the world pays close attention to outstanding monuments and sites. The Minister is also expressing gratitude to UNESCO for its endorsement of the initiative in furtherance of the tenets of the World Heritage Convention.

 Jamaica participated in its first World Heritage Committee meeting in Qatar in 2014, where the country was elected as one of seven states to sit on the Bureau that plans the sitting of the upcoming session of the World Heritage Committee.

The World Heritage Convention was founded on the premise that certain places on earth are of outstanding universal value (OUV) in that these sites possess cultural heritage values that resonate far beyond their national boundaries and, as such, should form part of the common heritage of humanity. Even while fully respecting the national sovereignty and legislative autonomy of each country, the States Parties to the Convention recognize that the protection of the World Heritage is the duty of the international community as a whole.

There are currently 1007 World Heritage Sites in 161 countries across the globe. Thirty-two of these sites are located in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), with nearly half of this number to be found in the Caribbean.

World Heritage Status (WHS) guarantees international protection of sites for present and future generations, attracts international technical and funding assistance in managing a World Heritage and provides prestige for countries, particularly with respect to tourism.  Additionally, WHS is an important benchmark of achievement on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (captured under the review of a country’s natural and cultural resources).

Source: Minister of Youth and Culture

Culture Minister Notes strides made by Jamaica in World Heritage as the country joins the world in observance of World Heritage Day, April 18