M382 - Motion on Making Oxford a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hon. Little Toy Gun
This House notes:
1. This House notes that being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the highest recognition internationally for a site with magnificent cultural and/or natural significance.
2. This House notes that the United Kingdom and its overseas territories currently have a collective 29 sites, the eighth most in the world and fifth most in Europe. The current Top 10 list:
1. 51 sites - Italy
2. 48 sites - China and its special administrative regions
3. 44 sites - Spain
4. 41 sites - France
5. 40 sites - Germany
6. 33 sites - México
7. 32 sites - India
8. 29 sites - United Kingdom and its overseas territories
9. 26 sites - Russia
10. 23 sites - United States of America
3. This House notes that the United Kingdom has successfully submitted a total of 10 sites this century and 1 this decade. The most recent admission was made in 2015 for the Forth Bridge in the cities of Scotland; the most recent admission for English sites was made in 2009, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal on the border of England and Wales; the most recent admission for an exclusively English site was made in 2006, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape; the most recent admission for an English site in the home counties was made in 2003, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, Greater London.
4. This House notes that to be included on the World Heritage Site list, sites must first be included on a signatory nation's tentative list. At the moment, the tentative list includes 13 sites, of which 6 are exclusively in England:
1. Chatham Naval Dockyard, England
2. Creswell Crags, England
3. Darwin’s Landscape Laboratory: Down House and Environs, England
4. Flow Country, Scotland
5. Great Spas of Europe (with The City of Bath (England) Spa- transnational inscription together with Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Italy)
6. Gorham's Cave Complex, Gibraltar
7. Saint HelenaIsland of Saint Helena
8. Jodrell Bank Observatory, England
9. Lake District, England
10. Monkwearmouth and Jarrow Monastic Sites, England
11. Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof: the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland, Scotland
12. Wales Slate industry, Wales
13. Turks and Caicos Islands, Caribbean
5. This House notes that within the United Kingdom and its overseas territories, the Department for Media, Culture and Sports of Her Majesty's Government is responsible for the nomination process.
6. This House notes that the next tentative list review is likely to be between the year 2019 and 2021.
7. This House notes that making a site UNESCO World Heritage Site does not impose financial burden or legal constraint on the government, and it does not, per se, add additional constraints on owners of the site.
8. This House notes that a listed site may attract indirect funding from other sources such as The Lottery or the private sector, and may serve promotional purposes for the owners of the sites.
9. This House notes that the City of Oxford can be traced back to the year 727, a time older than all but only 4 existing UK cultural sites.
10. This House notes that the City of Oxford is already home to circa 1500 Grade I, Grade II, or Grade II* listed buildings, a number that is more than twice the national average. Among them are buildings that span every major period of British architectural history dating back to the 11th century.
11. This House notes that to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a site must be of 'universal outstanding value' and must satisfy at least 1 of the 10 criteria, of which 6 are cultural.
This House believes:
1. This House believes the City of Oxford has exceptional cultural value and can certainly satisfy more than 1 cultural criterion.
2. This House believes the increase in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Site brings prestige to the country and direct benefits, in terms of tourism and academic research, to the country.
3. This House believes the City of Oxford has already established itself as a global brand and can be elevated to world heritage status.
4. This House believes the City of Oxford satisfies all cultural criteria I, II, III, IV, V, VI listed below:
I represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance
II exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time, or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design
III to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
IV is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history
V is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change
VI is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance
5. This House believes the following facts have enabled the City of Oxford to satisfy the criteria:
a. The City of Oxford is home to The University of Oxford, the second-oldest surviving university and the first university in the Anglosphere. During this time, the University oversees and has directly been involved in the evolution in education(i) (especially in secondary and tertiary education), the birth and the development of the idea of human rights(ii) (especially women and minority rights), political reforms as well as the ups and downs of a world power(iii) (ie the United Kingdom), religious reforms(iv), scientific evolution(v), cultural creations(vi), among other aspects of influential, fundamental societal changes.
i. The University followed a medieval practice of educating pupils for 7 years from what is now secondary school age, awarding a Master of Arts degree at the end of the education; this practice is now modified and the University experienced the changes first-hand.
The University came into existence as the only university in the country and has witnessed the establishment of many other institutions, including the upgrade of most polytechnics in 1992. During this time, there were funding, application, and evaluation changes.
The University came into being as a theological school educating future priests and has been directly involved in the founding of new and more focused academic disciplines.
The University was a pioneer in continuing education with its work in the extension movement in the 1850s.
The University has directly led to the creation of other world-class institutions such as University of Cambridge and University of Reading, and indirectly to other ones such as Harvard University.
ii. The University experienced a change in accepting and awarding degrees to females as a part of the feminist movement.
The University experienced both accepted colonialism and decolonization movements.
The University conducted religious intolerance and has since then embraced conflicting religious and irreligious ideas.
The University has seen the creation of student unions, including its own, on top of numerous full-time and part-time officers representing students of varied minority backgrounds.
iii. The University was mostly royalist during the English Civil War and housed His Majesty King Charles I throughout.
The University has educated countless world leaders, including 26 British prime ministers, 2 British kings, 6 additional British royals, and members of all levels of British public life.
iv. A member of the University translated the first English bible.
The University was home to the religious Oxford Movement and numerous Archbishops of Canterbury.
v. The University has 64 Nobel Prize affiliations (10 in Literature and Peace).
Famous scientist Oxonians include Prof Einstein, Prof Hawking, Prof Dawkins, Prof Schrödinger, Prof Smith, Prof Hubble etc. Other scientists have invented the world-wide web, founded modern chemistry, discovered penicillin, among many other influential inventions and discoveries.
vi. The University was home to many famous writers, artists, actors, and musicians. Influential works include James Bond, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, Bridgehead Revisited etc. On top of that, the University was likewise setting of many cultural items such as X-Man, The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter, and so on.
The University was home to many adventurers, including one who introduced the table fork and umbrella to England, one who founded the state of Iraq, and one who first climbed the peak of the world.
These relate to criteria I, II, III, V, and VI.
b. The City of Oxford is home to The University of Oxford, a university generally recognized as one of the world's best. On the latest issues, it ranks No 2 globally on Times Higher Education, No 6 on QS, and No 10 on ARWU.
This relates to criterion I.
c. The City of Oxford is home to the Bodleian Libraries, the largest university library in the UK, the second-largest library in the UK, and one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Among its 12-million-strong collection in Shakespeare's first folio and a copy of the ancient Magna Carta.
In addition, Merton College Library is the oldest surviving library in continuous use in the world.
These relate to criteria I, II, III, IV, and V.
d. The City of Oxford is home to the Ashmolean Museum, the first public museum in the world, the first university museum in the world, and the first museum in Britain. Its original site, now the Museum of History of Science, is the oldest surviving purpose-built museum building in the world.
This relates to criteria I, III, IV, and V.
e. The City of Oxford has experienced numerous important and influential historical events.
1. Viking burnings
2. Witenagemot recognized Cnut the Great as King of England
3. Witenagemot held at Oxford to translate the laws of England into Latin and apply them equally within England and the Danelaw
4. Beaumont Palace gave birth to two future kings
5. Her Imperial Majesty Holy Roman Empress Matilda, later Lady of the English, fled to Oxford and took refuge at Oxford Castle during the anarchy
6. Council held on governance of Ireland
7. A council of the barons charged with enforcing Magna Carta meets with King John at Oxford Castle
8. Provisions of Oxford enacted by parliament
9. Multiple Oxford parliaments
10. Start of the Second Barons' War
11. Military headquarter of Second Barons' War
12. Merton College Mob Quad built as first university student accommodation in the world
13. Isabella of France reached Oxford during her invasion of England
14. An Oxford student exposed the Guy Fawkes's gunpowder plot
These relate to criteria II and VI.
f. The City of Oxford is home to St Edmund Hall, the oldest surviving academic society to house and educate undergraduates in any university.
This relates to criteria I, II, III, IV, and V.
g. The City of Oxford is home to the first botanical garden in the British Isles.
This relates to criteria I, II, III, IV, and V.
h. The City of Oxford is home to the first music room in the world.
This relates to criteria I, II, III, IV, and V.
i. The City of Oxford is home to Oxford University Press, the largest university press and second-oldest in the world.
This relates to criteria I, III, and VI.
j. The City of Oxford is home to the world's oldest graffiti (at Christ Church).
This relates to criteria I and III.
k. The City of Oxford is home to many unique and exceptional buildings representative of a time or a style.
1. St George's Tower - rare example of military stone structure
2. New College - excellent example of English Perpendicular Gothic style
3. Cornmarket Street - typical example of houses of wealthier citizens in Oxford and northern Europe in general in the period
4. Radcliffe Camera - first round library in the UK
5. Radcliffe Observatory - major monument of Classical design inspired by the 1st century Tower of the Winds in Athens
6. University Museum of Natural Sciences - one of the first examples of a non-religious Gothic building
7. Keble College - impressive example of Gothic Revival
8. Norham Manor Estate - one of the finest and most complete Victorian suburbs in England
9. Oxford Town Hall - wonderful example of late Victorian civic pride
10. St Catherine's College - Danish architect Jacobson designed everything
11. Holywell Music Room - first music room in the world
12. University Botanic Garden - first botanical garden in the British Isles
13. Merton College Library - first reading room in the world
14. Museum of History of Science - first public museum in the world
15. St Edmund's Hall - first academic society for the teaching and housing of undergraduates in the world
These relate to criteria I, II, and IV.
l. The City of Oxford is home to The University of Oxford which contains many unique cultural traditions.
1. The wearing of subfusc
2. May Day celebrations around Magdalen Tower
These relate to criterion III.
5. This House believes that by comparison, the City of Oxford is very qualified to be included on the list.
a. It is older than all but 3 listed sites in the UK and all but 2 in England.
b. It would not be the first to be partially or wholly owned by a university - Durham Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
c. It would not be the first to be with heavy continued political significance - the Palace of Westminster is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
d. It would not be the first city in England to be recognized - the City of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
e. It would not be the first in Oxfordshire to be listed - Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
f. It would not be the first to include a botanical garden - Royal Botanical Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
g. It would not be the first to not be in danger - only 1 site in the UK and its overseas territories is in danger.
6. This House believes that the Department can elicit support from University of Oxford, Oxford City Council, English Heritage Trust, National Trust, Oxford Brookes University, and other professional bodies to compile the report to complete the second stage of the nomination.
This House resolves that the government includes the City of Oxford in the tentative list for submission to UNESCO World Heritage List in the next review.