But perhaps the programme's most serious weakness, inherent in its status as an international body complete with the inevitable politics, is its lack of sanctions
States parties (signatories to the convention) pay 1% of their annual Unesco dues into the world heritage fund and some, including the US, have not forked out in years. Many countries pay less than £60 a year, giving the fund an annual operating income of not much more than £600,000.
"You could call it a catastrophic success," Mr Bandarin said. "Inscription has become a political issue. It's about prestige, publicity and economic development - there's the possibility of some financial aid, yes, but mainly of more visitors."
It is also the victim of its own popularity. Born of the international community's successful campaign to save the Abu Simbel and Philae temples in Egypt from destruction during the construction of the Aswan dam in the 1950s, the programme listed 350 of the world's most spectacular cultural and natural heritage sites during its first 20 years of existence.
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