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UNESCO not allowed to add Mrauk-U on World Heritage List as UN General Assembly does not recognize the post- coup regime

Narinjara News, January 19, 2023


Mrauk-U was founded in AD 1430 by King Min Saw Mon of Rakhine, and ruled by successive Rakhine monarchs for 354 years. Advocates want the ancient Rakhine city of Mrauk-U to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, to ensure long-term preservation of this priceless ancient historical heritage.


In order for Mrauk-U to be included in the World Heritage List, the Mrauk-U Archaeology Department has worked to raise awareness among the local public, and also prepared for presentations of historical recordst to a future field survey .But there has been no further communication from UNESCO, a person who tried to get Mrauk-U on the World Heritage List told Narinjara.


The final proposal to add Mrauk-U to the World Heritage List was submitted to the UNESCO headquarters in France on December 30th, 2021 .However, UNESCO did not respond to whether

Myanmar’s request would be acted upon, given the political crisis and ongoing conflict in Rakhine and the whole of Myanmar.


Daw Khin Than, chairman of the Mrauk-U Heritage Conservation Committee said “ UNESCO may not be able to visit the site because of the political situation.”


Italian Professor Massimo Sarti, an expert of water resources, visited Mrauk-U from February 9th to 15th, 2021, to do a pilot field survey for the inclusion of Mrauk-U in the World Heritage List. At the end of his 7-day field survey, Sarti commented that dumping garbage in streams and ditches in Mrauk-U and the presence of squatters in the ancient city areas could make it difficult to put Mrauk-U on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


But even if this was cleaned up, Mrauk-U Heritage Conservation Committee does not seem to be aware that their ill-timed application for world heritage recognition just after the 2021 coup is fundamentally flawed. That basic obstacle is the fact that the Military Council is not recognized by the UN General Assembly as the legitimate government, and the Myanmar seat continues be

categorized for the 2 nd year as “vacant.”


Any world heritage agreement can only legally be signed by UNESCO with a government recognized by the UN headquarters in New York. So in effect the Myanmar application signed by the junta is a non-starter.



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