Koïchiro Matsuura

Koïchiro Matsuura is a Japanese diplomat. A graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Tokyo and the Faculty of Economics at Haverford College (United States), he has held various positions in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including as Director General of Economic Cooperation (1988-1990), as Director General for North American Affairs (1990-1992) and then as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-1994). In 1994 he became Ambassador of Japan to France, a position he held until 1999. He was appointed Director General of UNESCO and completed two terms (1999-2009). UNESCO has published several of his speeches in the form of a compendium called Responding to the Challenges of the 21st Century - Selected Speeches 2002 (UNESCO, 2004).

Koïchiro Matsuura was involved in the ratification by Japan of the World Heritage Convention in 1992. He then served as Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee for one year and presided over its annual session in Kyoto in 1998. In 2008, he published his personal reflections on World Heritage in a book in Japanese and translated into English.

The following audio excerpts are from an interview with Koïchiro Matsuura by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler in November 2009 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The former UNESCO Director General discusses the length of the World Heritage List, draws parallels with the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003, calls for a restructuring of the functioning of the Committee and the World Heritage Centre, and stresses the importance of community involvement and traditional management practices.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Koïchiro Matsuura by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler, Paris, France, 24 November 2009.