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World War I remembrance sites in Belgium, France added to UNESCO registry

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2003
                                A sculpture entitled “Mourning Parents” by German artist Kaethe Kollwitz looks over a German World War I cemetery in Vladslo, Belgium, on Nov. 11, 2003.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2003

    A sculpture entitled “Mourning Parents” by German artist Kaethe Kollwitz looks over a German World War I cemetery in Vladslo, Belgium, on Nov. 11, 2003.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2017
                                Grass and trees cover World War I bomb craters in the ruined village of Fleury devant Douaumont, France, on April 3, 2017.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2017

    Grass and trees cover World War I bomb craters in the ruined village of Fleury devant Douaumont, France, on April 3, 2017.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2014
                                World War I graves are illuminated by candles at the Tyne Cot Commonwealth cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium, on Oct. 17, 2014.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2014

    World War I graves are illuminated by candles at the Tyne Cot Commonwealth cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium, on Oct. 17, 2014.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2017
                                Canadian soldiers march at a sunset ceremony and mounting of the vigil at the World War I Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Givenchy-en-Gohelle, France on April 8, 2017.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2017

    Canadian soldiers march at a sunset ceremony and mounting of the vigil at the World War I Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Givenchy-en-Gohelle, France on April 8, 2017.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2014
                                Mist gathers on the horizon at Dud’s Corner World War I Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France, on March 13, 2014. On Wednesday, Sept. 20, First World War cemeteries and memorial sites in Belgium and France were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List during the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2014

    Mist gathers on the horizon at Dud’s Corner World War I Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France, on March 13, 2014. On Wednesday, Sept. 20, First World War cemeteries and memorial sites in Belgium and France were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List during the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee.

PARIS >> UNESCO added World War I funerary and memorial locations across the Western Front to its prestigious World Heritage registry, expanding its list of landmarks of monumental importance.

The World Heritage Committee announced the decision Wednesday during its ongoing meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The list includes sites the panel has deemed “of outstanding value to humanity,” according to the agency, and deserving of “special protection” — including funding and international protection in times of war under the Geneva Convention.

The newly added sites stretch from Belgium’s north to eastern France, battle zones where the Allied forces clashed with the German army from 1914 to 1918. The array of sanctuaries ranges from expansive necropolises bearing multitudes of soldiers from different nationalities to humbler graveyards and individual monuments.

The list previously included 1,157 sites notable for their extraordinary natural wonders or distinctive human contributions.

From the archaeological remnants of Turkey’s Gordion to the well-preserved Jewish heritage sites in Germany, this year’s additions aimed at encouraging reflection and admiration for world culture, according to UNESCO.

In a statement released Wednesday, France’s defense ministry hailed the decision as a recognition of the “exceptional universal value” these WWI sites hold, marking a meaningful counter to the “inhumanity of war.”

Belgium and France have been campaigning to include these sites in UNESCO’s registry since the early 2010s. Sites are nominated to and designated by the U.N. cultural agency’s World Heritage Convention.

The incorporation of the WWI memorial grounds into the World Heritage List is meant to be a testimony to the legacy of the fallen soldiers, according to UNESCO.

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