UNESCO rejects Lighthouse group request for report access, citing respect for China’s rights

The local Concern Group for the Protection of the Guia Lighthouse has announced that UNESCO has denied its request to access the government report on the unfinished building located at Calçada do Gaio 18-20, the group noted in a statement.

As per the disclosed UNESCO response letter within the same statement, the international organization explained that, in response to the group’s request to seek permission from the State Party (China) to divulge details on the Heritage Impact Assessment for the building, “UNESCO is not in a position to make such a request and we kindly advise you to reach out to the concerned authorities directly.” The letter was signed by the director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center, Lazare Eloundou Assomo.

On the line was the intention of the group to access the details of the report, produced by the local government and delivered to UNESCO via the central government of the People’s Republic of China.

Assomo remarked, “UNESCO remains deeply committed to continuing to work closely with all concerned stakeholders in preserving and safeguarding the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including through the implementation of Decision 45 COM 7B.154 adopted at the extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee.” The 45th session took place last year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from Sep. 10 to 25.

The same group also requested that UNESCO send a team of experts to assess the situation on-site. This request was also denied, with the director of the World Heritage Center stating, “Please note that such missions are, in principle, conducted either at the request of the World Heritage Committee (Reactive Monitoring missions) or at the invitation of the States Parties (Advisory missions).” As such, Assomo clarified that such assessments can only be conducted at the request and invitation of the State Member (China).

Nevertheless, UNESCO acknowledged the concerns expressed by the group in multiple letters submitted to the body and confirmed ongoing communication with the State Party of the People’s Republic of China and the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee regarding the property’s conservation, adhering to the provisions of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

The Guia Lighthouse group remains determined to halt the ongoing reconstruction, which began in mid-2022 after the government approved a new project to conclude the real estate development.

The group advocates for the cessation of construction and urges a decision to reduce the building’s height from the current 81 meters to a maximum of 52.5 meters.

Such a decision would require the demolition of several floors, as the building has already been built to the height of 81 meters.

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