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Culture, heritage Swiss eye place on UNESCO executive board


Alain Berset, left, is welcomed by UNESCO'S Director-General Audrey Azoulay at the Paris UNESCO HQ on Friday

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

Home Affairs Minister Alain Berset, on a visit to Paris, has been lobbying for Switzerland to join the executive board of the United Nations’ cultural body UNESCO.

Switzerland was last on the boardexternal link during 2003-2007 but put its bid to join on ice in 2015 after the government decided it should shift its international priorities elsewhere. The decision was also tied to a United States push for a place on the board, reports said.

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Berset met UNESCOexternal link Director-General Audrey Azoulay as part of a two-day trip to the French capital which ended on Friday.

“He supported the Swiss candidacy for a seat on the executive board and underlined the Swiss efforts in assuring this organisation works well,” Berset’s spokesman Peter Lauener told Keystone-SDA.  The contribution by the Swiss to the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation was acknowledged by Azoulay, he said.

A decision will take place in November.

Underwater heritage

While in Paris, Bersetexternal link also signed UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritageexternal link, meaning that Switzerland has now signed up to all UNESCO cultural conventions.

The text applies to around three million archaeological sites that are under water. Switzerland notably has prehistoric pile dwellings in some of its lakes. This tweet from the Swiss UNESCO commission celebrates the signing.



Switzerland joined UNESCO in 1949external link – way before it became a member of the UN in 2002. In June foreign minster Ignazio Cassis hailed the 70th anniversary of relations at an event in Bern, acknowledging "the commitment of those who work for the preservation of memory and development of knowledge".

The country has 12 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage listexternal link including the Abbey of St Gallen, the old city of Bern and the Vineyard Terraces at Lavaux.

UNESCO properties  Switzerland celebrates its heritage sites

Switzerland is home to 12 of the world’s 1,052 UNESCO world heritage sites.


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