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Committee Decisions

CONF 209 XIII.A.2-12

Revision of Section I of the Operational Guidelines

XIII.2 The Secretariat recalled that the Operational Guidelines have been revised many times over the last twenty years and are generally considered as requiring substantial editing and reorganization. In 1998 a Global Strategy meeting for cultural and natural heritage experts was held in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The meeting discussed the application of the "test of authenticity" and the "conditions of integrity", the question of a unified set of criteria for cultural and natural heritage and the notion of "outstanding universal value". The report of the Amsterdam meeting was presented to the Committee at its twenty-second session in Kyoto, Japan.

XIII.3 The Secretariat recalled that the Amsterdam meeting made several recommendations including a proposal to develop a unified set of criteria to bring together the existing six cultural and four natural heritage criteria currently presented in Paragraphs 24 and 44 in the first section of the Operational Guidelines. The expert meeting concluded that a unified set of criteria would improve the logic of the Guidelines and emphasize and more clearly express the underlying principles of the Convention in relation to both cultural and natural, and mixed heritage, and cultural landscapes demonstrating outstanding interactions between people and the environment. The Amsterdam meeting also recommended that conditions of integrity be prepared for all ten criteria. For cultural properties this would include a test of authenticity.

XIII.4 The Secretariat informed the Committee that the Working Document concerning revisions to Section I of the Operational Guidelines examined by the twenty-third session of the Bureau in July, had been made available to the Committee as WHC-99/CONF.209/INF.12. The Secretariat recalled that the draft revisions had been prepared in full consultation with all three advisory bodies. The draft revisions, included a draft unified set of criteria with minimal change to the actual text of the criteria as a way of improving the presentation and clarity of Section I of the Guidelines and to better reflect what has been described as the nature/culture continuum expressed at many World Heritage properties around the world.

XIII.5 The Secretariat recalled that at its twenty-third session, the Bureau welcomed the generous invitation by the Observer of the United Kingdom to host an international expert meeting on the Operational Guidelines. The meeting will take place in Canterbury in the United Kingdom from 10-14 April 2000.

XIII.6 The Representative of ICOMOS noted the considerable importance of the discussions on the proposed unified set of criteria and on interpretations of the "test of authenticity". He noted that the meeting to be held in Zimbabwe in May 2000 would examine the application of the "test of authenticity" and "conditions of integrity" for Africa. He informed the Committee that the ICOMOS General Assembly held in Mexico in October 1999 had approved the Nara Document on Authenticity and that it therefore became part of the corpus of reference texts of ICOMOS. He emphasized the importance of the Nara Document in recognising, in differing regional contexts, the diversity of cultural heritage and human development. He referred to the constructive discussions that are linking culture and nature, and that had recognised cultural landscapes. Finally, he highlighted the need to recognise authenticity in the context of heritage of spiritual value.

XIII.7 The Observer of the United Kingdom informed the Committee of the aims, objectives and expected outcomes of the Expert Meeting on the Operational Guidelines to be held in Canterbury in 2000. He noted that representatives, including States Parties and site managers, from all regions would be invited. He indicated that the meeting would not re-write the Operational Guidelines but instead work on proposals to reorganise them to ensure a more user-friendly version. He thanked the Committee for having provided funds, additional to those contributed by the United Kingdom, for the meeting.

XIII.8 The Representative of ICCROM provided complementary comments to those of ICOMOS. He informed the Committee that ICCROM and ICOMOS had prepared a joint paper on the subject that they would provide to the Secretariat. He commented that it was important that a unified set of criteria did not blur the distinction between integrity and authenticity.

XIII.9 In recalling the resolution of the twelfth General Assembly of States Parties, the Observer of France commented that a unified set of criteria could contribute to ensuring a more representative World Heritage List. He expressed his concern that the Committee continued to delay the unification of the criteria and called for immediate action in this respect.

XIII.10 IUCN expressed their strong agreement with the Delegate of France stating that it was time for action by bringing the natural and cultural criteria into a continuum of criteria for World Heritage. IUCN stated that they had consulted widely within its constituency and that there is consistent support for the change to the criteria and that a decision is keenly awaited. IUCN urged that the Canterbury meeting be encouraged to work towards a draft which accommodates the integration of the criteria and endeavour to include both the conditions of integrity and the test of authenticity. The Observer of France underlined the confusion that the draft decision II.3 might encourage. With such a procedure, the Committee would confer a 'decisional' character to the evaluations of the advisory bodies that only the Bureau session in June disposes. The Delegate of Morocco noted that the revision of the Operational Guidelines is not in itself negative. What is of concern is more the rhythm of the revisions. He added that it would be advantageous to have a revised text that could be valid for the next twenty years. The importance of a concertation between the different working groups created by the Committee was emphasized.

XIII.11 The Delegate of Zimbabwe referred to the Amsterdam meeting as a milestone and expressed his agreement with the statements made by France and IUCN saying that it was time to act on the proposal to unifiy the criteria.

XIII.12 The Committee decided to refer the subject of a unified set of criteria to the Expert Meeting to be held in Canterbury, United Kingdom for review.