Raymond Wanner

Ray Wanner is a retired American diplomat. He holds a PhD in History of Education and Comparative Education from the University of Pennsylvania and worked for the United States State Department for thirty years, from 1972 to 2002. During this period he was part of the United States Permanent Delegation to UNESCO in Paris until the country withdrew from the organization in 1984. He then became responsible for UNESCO files at the State Department in Washington until he retired from the federal public service in 2002. He then became Senior Advisor to the United Nations Foundation, working closely with the World Heritage Centre to pursue one of the major goals of the Foundation, namely conservation of biodiversity.

Throughout his career, Ray Wanner has had a strong interest in international education systems, published several articles on the subject, and actively participated in the work of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), of which he was President. He is also an Emeritus Member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO. In 2015, he published UNESCO’s Origins, Achievements, Problems and Promise: An Inside/Outside Perspective from the US (Comparative Education Research Center, Hong Kong University). Ray Wanner received the Career Achievement Award from the Secretary of State and the UNESCO Human Rights Medal for his commitment to international intellectual cooperation.

The following audio excerpts are from an interview with Ray Wanner by Christina Cameron in May 2011 in Springfield, Virginia. Having attended nearly 20 sessions of the Committee during his career, he recounts several key moments in the history of the Convention from the perspective of the United States, including the inscription of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or the efforts to prevent mining in Yellowstone. He also gives an informed look at the politicization of the World Heritage Committee and calls for a return to the founding ideals of the Convention.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Raymond Wanner by Christina Cameron, Springfield, United States of America, 18 May 2011.