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Workshop on International Heritage Conventions and National Heritage Legislation, Lao PDR, 3 May 2006

New Innovative Strategy Adopted for Updating Lao PDR Tentative World Heritage List

The main objective of the Workshop on International Heritage Conventions and National Heritage Legislation in Lao PDR, which was held in Vientiane on 3 May 2006, was to develop a strategy for updating the Lao PDR Tentative World Heritage List. A Tentative List is an inventory of those heritage properties which a State Party intends to consider for World Heritage nomination during the following years. Currently, Lao PDR has two World Heritage sites: the Town of Luang Prabang, inscribed in 1995, and Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape, inscribed in 2001. The current Tentative List of Lao PDR, submitted in 1992, includes the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang Province and the That Luang in Vientiane. Preparations for nominating the Plain of Jars for World Heritage listing are already underway.

Hosted by the Lao National Commission for UNESCO, the workshop brought together representatives from concerned Ministries, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and UNESCO. Participants identified ten heritage sites that could potentially be added to the Tentative List, including cultural sites such as the Cultural Landscape of Muang Souvannakhomkham in Bokeo Province, the Standing Stones in Houaphan Province, and natural sites such as Siphandone and Khone Pha Pheng in the most southern provinces.

Recognizing the need for consulting local stakeholders prior to including a site on the Tentative List, the workshop participants adopted an innovative strategy, consisting of consultative workshops at the Provincial or District level for each of the ten identified sites aiming at:

  • collecting detailed information about the significance of the sites, and
  • obtaining approval for the inclusion of the site’s Tentative List and potential future World Heritage nomination.

Upon completion of each workshop, depending on the agreement of the stakeholders, the site will be added to the Tentative List. This way, the Tentative List will gradually be updated. It was agreed to proceed with conducting workshops for sites most under threat from development projects first. This will allow safeguarding efforts by the Lao Government and UNESCO focused on these endangered sites first.

Besides developing a strategy for updating the Tentative List, the workshop provided an opportunity for the Ministry of Culture to present to other government stakeholders the new national heritage legislation that had just been signed into effect, and promote the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is considering its ethnic diversity and rich oral and traditional knowledge and practices, a very relevant instrument for Lao PDR.



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