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Working Group on the Representativity of the World Heritage List

The Working Group on the Representativity of the World Heritage List was decided by the 23rd Session of the World Heritage Committee as a followup to the Twelfth General Assembly of States Parties of the World Heritage Convention.

At a meeting held on 21 January 2000 the following twelve States Parties were elected to the Working Group: Australia, Benin, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Romania, South Africa and Tunisia. Benin was elected as Chair of the Working Group; Australia agreed to act as rapporteur.
The group will define its terms of reference, its working methods, and calendar. Its recommendations will be submitted to the 24th session of the Bureau, 26 June to 1 July 2000.

Report of Working Group I: Representativity of the World Heritage List

1. The Working Group on the Representativity of the World Heritage List was established during a meeting of States Parties held on 21 January 2000. The meeting was convened by the Director of the World Heritage Centre on the basis of the resolution concerning the ways and means to ensure a Representative World Heritage List adopted by the 12th session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (October 1999), as well as the discussion that followed during the 23rd session of the World Heritage Committee, Marrakesh, 29 November - 4 December 1999. The full text of the resolution can be found in Annex II of document WHC-99/CONF.206/7.

2. The meeting of 21 January 2000 decided to create the Working Group on the basis of the following principles: the Group should be open to all States Parties; it should be composed of twelve members, two from each electoral group. The meeting decided that the Working Group would be chaired by H.E. Mr Olabiyi B.J. Yai, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Benin to UNESCO and that the Rapporteur would be H.E. Mr Matthew Peek, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO. Other members of the Group were the following States Parties: Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Romania, South Africa and Tunisia.

3. The Group met four times in the period January to April 2000.

4. Around twenty observers participated actively in all aspects of the work of the Group including the drafting of recommendations.

5. One Advisory Body (ICOMOS) participated in all sessions and contributed very positively to the discussions. IUCN submitted its views in a letter to the Group dated 8 February and participated in the final session of the Group.

6. The Director of the World Heritage Centre appointed Ms Galia Saouma-Forero as his representative to the Working Group. The Director and the Deputy Director of the Centre each participated in one session and other staff of the Centre also participated in other sessions. The Centre also provided valuable support services for the Group including interpretation, translation of documents and a web-site which enabled all States Parties to follow the work of the Group.

7. The mandate of the Group, established at the first meeting was to make recommendations towards improving the representativityof the World Heritage List. The substantive discussion in the Working Group, therefore focused in particular on sections A, B, C and D of the Resolution.

8. The Working Group's meetings were conducted in a spirit of co-operation and goodwill. All participants emphasised that outcomes should not be seen to penalise States Parties, including those with a significant number of properties. Recommendations were designed to address the important issue of representativity in a positive and constructive way, in keeping with the spirit of the Convention.

9. Issues covered during the meetings of the Working Group included:

  • Possible changes to process issues within the World Heritage Committee which might contribute to addressing the issue of under-representativity, including the role of the tentative list in this context. It was noted that the work of the group should be complementary to work being undertaken by both Working Group II on Equitable Representation on the Committee and the Task Force on the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.
  • Concern about the implications of the rapidly increasing size of the World Heritage List for the management and rigour of the inscription process, the capacity of the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Committee to monitor and assist in the management of World Heritage properties, and the potential of these factors to detract from the credibility of the Convention.
  • The need for a clearer understanding of the scope of the problem, including through an inventory of the World Heritage List and the tentative list. It was noted that before such work could be carried out by the Advisory Bodies, States Parties would need through, the World Heritage Committee, to define clearly the different categories of sites and geographic regions to be used in the construction of the inventory.
  •     * The need for technical and financial support for many non-represented and under-represented States in preparing and bringing forward proposed inscriptions.

10. An outline of the discussions of these issues, and of the work of the Group more generally, can be found in the Rapporteur's Notes. These, together with other documents relevant to the Working Group, can be found at <http://www.unesco.org/whc/wg-replist/>.

11. As result of its discussions, the Working Group recommends that the World Heritage Committee consider and adopt the following recommendations. The Working Group recommends that these take effect from the conclusion of the 24th session the World Heritage Committee:

Tentative Lists

(i) The tentative list of cultural and natural sites should be used in the future as a planning tool with a view to reducing any imbalances in the World Heritage List. States Parties are reminded of the invitation to submit tentative lists in conformity with Article 11 of the Convention. The Committee should extend to natural sites its decision not to examine nominations of sites for inscription if the property does not appear on a tentative list prepared in compliance with paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Operational Guidelines.

(ii) The Advisory Bodies should proceed with an analysis of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List and the tentative list on a chronological, geographical and thematic basis. This analysis should be undertaken as soon as possible, taking into account the workload on Advisory Bodies and the financial implications of this work, particularly in regard to the large number of sites on the tentative list. For this reason the work should be undertaken in two parts, sites inscribed on the World Heritage List and sites on the tentative list. The analysis will provide States Parties with a clear overview of the present situation, and likely trends in the short to medium term with a view to identifying under-represented categories.

The Advisory Bodies should take into account in their analyses:

  • The diversity and particularities of natural and cultural heritage in each region, and
  • The recommendations of the regional and thematic meetings on the harmonisation of tentative lists held since 1984 and those on the Global Strategy organised since 1994.

(iii) The Advisory Bodies should communicate the results of the analyses to the World Heritage Committee and, following the Committee's examination, the results should be conveyed to States Parties to the Convention, together with the Committee's recommendations. This will allow them to prepare, revise and/or harmonise their tentative list, taking into account, where appropriate, regional considerations, and to take the results of the analyses into consideration for the submission of future nominations.


(vi) In order to address the issue of representativity, and at the same time to promote effective management of the increasing size of the World Heritage List, the Committee at each ordinary session will set the maximum number of nominations to be considered. All nominations received will be placed on a list for consideration in sequence. Such a list will be prepared by the World Heritage Centre in consultation with the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, and approved by the Bureau. The list shall be based on the following factors and in the priority order indicated:

  1. Nominations of sites proposed for immediate inscription on the List of the World Heritage in Danger.
  2. The nomination of a site submitted for the first time by an un-represented State Party, listed in date order, where the operative date is the date when the nomination is received.
  3. Nominations by other less-represented States Parties, to be listed in date order, where the operative date is the date when the nomination is received.
  4. Nominations deferred from previous meetings.
  5. Nominations from less-represented regions to be listed in date order, where the operative date is the date when the nomination is received.
  6. Nominations of sites from any State Party that illustrate un-represented or less-represented categories, as determined by analyses prepared by the Advisory Bodies, and reviewed and approved by the Committee.
  7. Joint or "sister" nominations of a common topic, including at least one nomination from a less-represented State Party.
  8. Nominations by those States Parties substantially represented in the List that have abstained from nominations (including those whose nominations have been deferred from previous annual cycles), with priority ranking given to those from States parties that have abstained from nomination for the greatest number of years.
  9. Nominations submitted in previous cycles and falling outside categories (a) to (h) above, not considered because they did not achieve sufficient priority at previous meetings, to be included in date order, when the operative date is the date when the completed nomination is received.

It is recommended that the priority listing proposal outlined above apply to nominations received by the World Heritage Centre after 1 July 2000 in order for progress to be made reasonably quickly towards achieving enhanced representativity in the World Heritage List.

Voluntary Score-board

(v) A voluntary score-board system or 'performance indicator' for countries that already have a substantial number of sites inscribed should be introduced, as a management and information tool, focused on the measures outlined in the Resolution adopted by the 12th General Assembly of States Parties, as a stimulus for these countries to continue to contribute positively to representativity of the World Heritage List.

Proposed Performance Indicator System
I    Voluntary measures aiming at discouraging nominations by States Parties with a substantial number of sites inscribed

scores:    0 nominations    10 pts.
         1-3    5 pts.
         4<    0 pts.

II    Proposing only properties in underrepresented categories

scores:    only underrepresented    5 pts.
         overrepresented    0 pts.

III    Linking nominations with a underrepresented State Party

scores:    without nominating itself    10 pts.
         every nomination linked    5 pts.
         some nominations linked    3 pts.
         no nominations linked    0 pts.

IV Voluntary suspension of new nominations

scores:    coming 5 years    10 pts.
         coming 4 years    8 pts.
         coming 3 years    6 pts.
         coming 2 years    4 pts.
         coming year    2 pts.

V Other/specific assistance offered to States Parties whose heritage is still under-represented (preparation of tentative lists, nominations and training programmes) during the last five years

 scores:    tentative list assistance    2 pts. (per country)
         nominations assistance    2 pts. (idem)
         training assistance    2 pts. (idem)
         other    1 pt. (idem)

The information necessary for the implementation of the voluntary performance indicator system will be communicated by the States Parties concerned to the World Heritage Centre which will periodically submit it, for information, to the World Heritage Committee and to the General Assembly of States Parties.

Capacity Building for Under-represented Regions

(vi) The World Heritage Centre should promote training programmes, preferably at the regional level, aimed at allowing States Parties whose heritage is still under-represented to be better versed in the Convention and to better implement the measures under Article 5. These primarily concern the identification, management, protection, enhancement and conservation of heritage. Such programmes should also assist States Parties to acquire and/or consolidate their expertise, in the preparation and harmonisation of their tentative lists and the preparation of nominations.

The Advisory Bodies should use the opportunity of evaluation missions to hold regional training workshops to assist under-represented States in the methods of preparation of their tentative list and nominations. Appropriate financial and human resources should be provided through the WHC budget process to undertake such workshops.

(vii) Requests by States Parties whose heritage is non-represented or under-represented should be given a high priority when the portion of the World Heritage budget relating to Preparatory Assistance in preparing nominations is developed.

(viii) The order of priorities for the granting of international assistance, as defined in paragraphs 91 and 113-114 of the Operational Guidelines, should be revised to improve the representativity of the World Heritage List and to be coherent with the Global Strategy. Beyond the conditions provided for by the Convention, and subject to the conclusions of the evaluation of international assistance, the new priority order should take into account:

  • The necessity of encouraging the beneficiary countries to develop measures for the implementation of the Convention in their country,
  • The order of priority for the examination of the nominations for inscription,
  • The state of preparation of the beneficiary countries, and
  • The necessity of giving priority to the least developed countries (LDCs) and countries with a low revenue.

(ix) Regional Plans of Action should be updated and developed within the framework of the Global Strategy. These should specify for each targeted region and State Party, the measures to be taken, the responsibilities and timetable for their accomplishment, and a mechanism to report on progress in implementing these at each session of the World Heritage Committee. In order to underline their incentive nature, the Plans of Action should highlight the actions by the States Parties concerned, notably in application of Article 5 of the Convention, and should mention the bilateral or multilateral co-operation programmes in the field of heritage in general, for the elaboration in particular of nominations.

(x) The next UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy should stress the necessity of adopting an intersectoral policy aimed at better implementing the Convention. From the 2002-2003 biennium, an intersectoral project should be developed and implemented to encourage the States Parties whose heritage is still under-represented to reinforce their capacity to protect, conserve and enhance it.

12. The Working Group also recommends that, in adopting some or all of these measures, the World Heritage Committee make clear provision for a review of the implementation and effectiveness of such measures not later than 2003.