Léon Pressouyre

Léon Pressouyre was a French historian and professor emeritus specializing in medieval art and archeology, which he taught for 17 years at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Distinguished advisor for ICOMOS from 1980 to 1990, he was subsequently a member of the French delegation to the World Heritage Committee. As a consultant to UNESCO, he chaired a UNESCO expert group to monitor the state of cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1996 to 2001 as well as the scientific committee for the reconstruction of the Mostar Bridge from 2002 to 2004. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including The World Heritage Convention, twenty years later (UNESCO, 1993, translation 1996).

His involvement in World Heritage dates back to the 1980s when he accepted the invitation of Raymond Lemaire to serve as ICOMOS coordinator for presentations to the World Heritage Committee. He also retrospectively prepared ICOMOS documents for sites already listed in 1978 and 1979. He was a member of the French delegation to the World Heritage Committee from 1990 to 1997.

The selected audio excerpts clips are from an interview with Léon Pressouyre by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler in November 2008 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. He describes the early years and the rich evolution of World Heritage since its creation. Through a keen and passionate eye, he addresses the importance of the presence and complementary work of the three advisory bodies and questions the role and future of the World Heritage Centre. Finally, he highlights the complexity of discussions around the notion of authenticity and cultural landscape and important cases like the inscription of the Mostar Bridge or Jerusalem.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Léon Pressouyre by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler, Paris, France, 18 November 2008.