Debate over Inclusion of Birthplace of Jesus on UNESCO World Heritage List

United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List comprises of about 900 sites all over the world; landmarks which the UNESCO believe it should protect as natural and cultural heritage because they are of “universal value to humanity”.

In a meeting of the UN body’s World Heritage Committee, comprising 21 member states, which commenced on Friday, 29th June, 2012, in St Petersburg, Russia, there will be a debate to consider whether to add the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem – the place believed to be the birthplace of Jesus – to its list. The meeting will be concluded on the 6th of July, 2012.

The Palestinians have been clamoring for long that this place be included on the World Heritage List. According to Bethlehem’s deputy mayor, George Saadeh, “there are [more than] 900 locations at the World Heritage List – why not Palestine?”… What is more important than the Church of the Nativity and City of Bethlehem?” This is a place where millions of Christians from all over the world travel thousands of kilometers to visit every year.

Beside churches, monasteries and convents from around the world that are a part of the world-renowned list, World Heritage Sites include the Pyramids in Egypt, the Grand Canyon in the United State, the Taj Mahal, to mention just a few. In Nigeria Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove and Sukur Cultural Landscape are already on the list while other locations across the country such as, Alok Ikom Stone Monoliths, Ancient Kano City Walls and Asociated Sties, Arochkwu Long Juju Slave Rute (Cave Temple Complex), Benin Iya / Sungbo s Eredo, Gashaki-Gumpti National Park, Kwiambana and/or Ningi, Niger Delta Mangroves, Oban Hills / Korup, Ogbunike Caves, Oke Idanre (Idanre Hill), Old Oyo and Surame Cultural Landscape are on the tentative list.

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