A regular session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, during which it will consider including 31 sites in its World Heritage List, will open in St. Petersburg on Sunday.
The list of candidate sites includes historic architectural landmarks in the southern Russian port city of Astrakhan and the towns of Uglich and Pskov, as well as the Lena Pillars National Park in the Far Eastern Sakha Republic, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Qatar, the Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Palau [a tiny Pacific island nation], Palestine and the Republic of Chad have nominated their landmarks [for inclusion in the World Heritage List] for the first time,” the statement said.
The Palestinians have asked the committee to declare the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which stands above the grotto that Christians believe was the birthplace of Jesus, and its pilgrimage route an endangered World Heritage site.
The committee, however, has turned down the emergency bid, saying the application needs more work, according to Associated Press.
The Palestinians controversially joined the UN heritage body last year, when its general assembly voted 107-14 to make Palestine its 195th member.
It’s the first time Russia will host the World Heritage Committee session. The country currently holds the rotating chair of the committee, which consists of representatives of 21 UNESCO member states.
The session will run until July 6.