World Heritage status for 51 Commonwealth war cemeteries and memorials


21 September 2023
The Thiepval Memorial in France
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has expressed its delight at the decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Council to inscribe 51 Commonwealth war cemeteries and memorials with World Heritage Status.

The inscription is part of a wider initiative to inscribe Funeral & Memorial Sites of The First World War (Western Front) with UNESCO World Heritage Status.

The proposal was sponsored by the Belgian (Flanders and Wallonia) and French states, and in total includes 139 locations connected with World War I. Menin Gate and Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, and Thiepval Memorial in France (pictured), are just three of the 51 Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites put forward as part of this proposal.  

Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Claire Horton CBE, said: “We are thrilled that a significant number of our iconic cemeteries and memorials along the former Western Front have been awarded World Heritage Status.

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“In recognising the Outstanding Universal Value of these places of memory – places that commemorate the sacrifice of those of many nations, faiths, and ethnicities – the proposal acknowledges CWGC’s century plus stewardship of all the cemeteries and memorials to a standard of excellence. World Heritage Status also recognises the global importance of these Silent Cities to ongoing commemoration of the war dead and brings with it significant and tangible benefits – not least the opportunity to engage wider and more diverse audiences.

“We are grateful to both the Belgian and French delegations for their sponsorship of the proposal and for their consultation and engagement with us throughout the process, and we look forward to working with all our partners to give “those silent witnesses to the desolation of war” the voice they deserve.”

For more on the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, visit their website.

Image copyright CWGC