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Committee Decisions

CONF 201 XIII.1-12

Examination of the World Heritage Fund and Approval of the Budget for 1997, and Presentation of a Provisional Budget for 1998

XIII.1 The Chairperson opened the session and referred to Working Documents WHC-96/CONF.201/14A, B and C, as well as to Information Documents WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.17, INF.18 and INF.19. Mr Mark Warren, Deputy Comptroller of the Bureau of the Comptroller of UNESCO, then presented the structure of the accounts and the global proposals for 1997.

XIII.2 The Deputy Comptroller explained that the documents relating to this agenda item (with the exception of WHC- 96/CONF.201/14D which would be discussed later), had been prepared in response to the Bureau's decision at its twentieth session for a more comprehensive and transparent presentation of the budget. In particular, he drew the Committee's attention to Information Document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.17 which contained the statement of accounts of the World Heritage Fund for the preceding biennium 1994-1995, which will be submitted to the next General Assembly, and to Document WHC-96/CONF.201/14C. This latter document provided the rationale for the budget ceiling, the proposals concerning the Reserve Fund and provided a detailed proposed budget for 1997.

XIII.3 The Director of the Centre then presented the proposed budget for 1997 and gave explanations concerning the differences proposed in the amounts allocated to the various chapters of the budget. The details were the following:

 

 

US $

 

 

Approved

Proposed

Indicative

 

 

1996

1997

1998

Chapter I

Overall servicing/functioning of the World Heritage Convention

440 000

120 000

80 000

Chapter II

Establishment of World Heritage List

592 000

672 000

672 000

Chapter III

Technical implementation of World Heritage Convention

1 410 000

1 830 000

1 830 000

Chapter IV

Monitoring and reporting in the state of conservation of World Heritage sites

260 000

280 000

280 000

Chapter V

World Heritage documentation, information and education programme for the 25th Anniversary

298 000

398 000

308 000

 

Balance to be included in 1998 proposed budget when presented to the twenty-first session of the Committee

TOTAL WHF

 

 

 3 000 000

 

 

 3 300 000

430 000

 

 3 600 000

XIII.4 Moreover, the Director recalled that if account is taken that the staff costs of the Centre paid by the World Heritage Fund will be absorbed in 1997 by the Regular Programme of UNESCO, the increase in the fiscal resources to the Fund available for World Heritage between 1996 and 1997 will be US$ 660,000, an almost 25% increase in fiscal resources available for Committee allocation.

XIII.5 Several delegates thanked the Director-General for having accepted to absorb in the Regular Programme of UNESCO the staff of the Centre presently funded from the World Heritage Fund. Furthermore, they welcomed the subsequent increase in the proposed available budget funds, increasing the capacity to respond to the needs of World Heritage sites. Several delegates suggested increasing the World Heritage budget by further reducing the reserves. Also, the management capacity of the World Heritage Centre for a budget which will be substantially increased was questioned. In this respect, the Committee noted that it was possible to call upon ICOMOS, ICCROM and IUCN and/or other competencies to increase the capacity of implementation.

XIII.6 Questions concerning the World Heritage Fund accounts as presented in the Documents WHC-96/CONF.201/14A and WHC-96/CONF.201/14B were then discussed. In general, it was considered that although the presentation of the information requested by the Committee had much improved since the nineteenth session of the World Heritage Committee, the division of Item 13 of the Agenda into six different documents led to confusion and a lack of clarity. Therefore, they considered that a reduction of documentation and the production of an annual balance sheet for the past year and an action plan for the coming year with forecasts for the forthcoming two years, would be more than adequate and provide the necessary global overview to facilitate the full comprehension of the proposals.

XIII.7 With regard to the accounts as at 31 August 1996, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy and Mexico questioned the transparency of the accounts and noted some anomalies. They remarked that they could not establish relationships between the tables and that some amounts did not correspond, or were incorrect. Moreover, they questioned the use of certain expenses obligated by the Centre. Delegates then raised a number of questions concerning details of the presentations of the World Heritage Fund accounts as well as the Document WHC-96/CONF.201/14/B "Synoptic Presentation of the World Heritage Centre (1996)". With regard to the same presentation, it was remarked that the staff costs of the Centre funded by UNESCO could not be shown as resources of the Centre. It was also recalled that, acting as the Secretariat for the Convention, the Centre could not have its own financial resources. (In fact, the Secretariat is the instrument for the implementation of the Convention and the decisions of the Committee.) Furthermore, several delegates requested clarifications on the income of the Centre, notably those coming from promotional activities.

XIII.8 The Deputy Comptroller of UNESCO intervened and responded to delegates' queries, notably concerning the accounts of the World Heritage Fund as at 31 August 1996. He also presented two new documents entitled "Other Revenues of the World Heritage Fund" (WHC-96/CONF.201/14A.Add.1) and "Income from Contracts with Media Partners" (Information Document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.19Add.1).

XIII.9 The Director of the Centre assured the Committee that the income indicated in Information Document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.19Add.1 had been paid into the World Heritage Fund and that this was ongoing. The Committee requested that the entire income could only be used upon the agreement of the Chairperson of the Committee and that a report be made of this income to the twenty-first session of the Bureau of the Committee in June 1997. They then discussed in detail the presentation of the Workplan proposed for 1997 and the provisional budget for 1998 (WHC-96/CONF.201/14C).

XIII.10 The Delegate of Mexico drew attention to the fact that it was not possible to evaluate objectively the variations in proposals in comparison to 1996, because the Committee did not dispose of any programme or project. He considered that the proposals submitted to the Committee were based on an analysis of past trends and emphasized that he wished that future budgets be based on short, medium and long-term programmes and plans, clearly relating to the objectives fixed by the Committee. This analysis was endorsed by several other delegations of states Parties to the Convention, notably Australia, Benin, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Niger and the United States of America. The Secretariat undertook to provide a detailed written reply to questions concerning Document WHC-96/CONF.201/14A.

XIII.11 The decisions of the Committee concerned two main aspects:

- improvement of the financial procedures and management;
- revision of the budget of the World Heritage Fund for 1997 and the indicative budget for 1998.

XIII.12 Improvement of the financial procedures and management

Delegates recalled that it was not the first time that there had been disagreement between the Committee and the Secretariat. Also, whilst recognizing the quality of the presentation had greatly increased since the nineteenth session, several delegates requested an external audit be undertaken of the accounts of the World Heritage Fund and the Centre and that, in order to disperse all ambiguity and seek a satisfactory solution for the preparation of the statement of accounts and provisional budgets.

Following several interventions, the delegates reached a consensus to carry out the detailed evaluation of the financial and management procedures which was read by the Delegate of Australia. It was then proposed that: "in the framework of the commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary, the World Heritage Committee undertakes a review on the way in which the Centre has assisted the Committee in the implementation of the Convention. This review is to consist of two parts: (a) an external audit specifically of the World Heritage Fund (Article 6.3 of the Financial Rules of the Fund) and an evaluation of the format, presentation and content of the financial information and the budgets presented to the Committee covering all the funds used by the Centre and made proposals to improve the financial system; (b) an audit of the management of the World Heritage Centre after five years of functioning so as to see the achievements and ways in which to improve its management structure and system.

This evaluation would be undertaken in 1997 so as to formulate recommendations to the Committee at its next session (twenty-first) and will be carried out by the constitution of a consultative body and the recruitment of an independent management advisory service of international repute, to carry out this evaluation according to the terms of reference elaborated by the consultative body. It will be financed from the World Heritage Fund (funds proposed for the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary) and the consultative body would be composed of Committee delegates."

This proposal was unanimously endorsed by the Committee and a consultative body composed of the following members: Australia, Benin, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malta and Mexico.

After having met, the Consultative Body thus constituted, submitted to the Committee the following text containing the terms of its task:

"MANAGEMENT REVIEW OF THE WORLD HERITAGE CENTRE

The World Heritage Committee at its meeting in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, 2-7 December 1996, noted with pleasure that 1997 marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention. As part of the celebrations and in view to contribute to the improvement of the efficiency in the implementation of this Convention, Committee members thought it would be appropriate to review the functioning of the World Heritage Centre, which itself is celebrating its fifth year of operation. Therefore, the Committee has created a Consultative Body, in conformity with Article 10.3 of the World Heritage Convention. The Consultative Body is composed of Committee members from Australia, Benin, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malta and Mexico.

The purpose of the Consultative Body is to take action on the proposal adopted by the Committee, to undertake a review of the way in which the World Heritage Centre has assisted the Committee in implementing the World Heritage Convention. The Consultative Body recommends that the review be undertaken in two phases:

1. In order to review the financial statements and accounts presented to the Committee, the Chairperson of the Committee is requested to seek the support of the Director-General of UNESCO to request UNESCO's External Auditor to conduct a specific audit of the World Heritage Fund for the year ending 31 December 1996. The extra costs that this might incur in the audit fee will be borne by the World Heritage Fund.

This audit should cover all funding sources, including revenue and other income. The audit should include a review of the format of the World Heritage Fund, presentation and content of the financial statements, accounts and budget information, as presented to the General Conference and to the World Heritage Assembly as required by the World Heritage Convention and the Financial Regulations of the World Heritage Fund.

In addition, the External Auditor should be requested to address a report of his audit to the Director-General, and present it to the World Heritage Bureau meeting at its twenty-first session (June 1997) together with the comments thereon of the Director-General.

2. The Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee is asked to approach the Director-General with the objective that UNESCO prepares a call for bids for an international firm of management consultants to conduct a review of management practices in the World Heritage Centre.

The draft call for bids together with the names of management consultant firms to which it will be sent, should be submitted to the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee for her agreement. The costs would be borne by the Fund.

The overall objectives are to review the efficiency and effectiveness of management practices in achieving outcomes, and to examine the degree to which programmes and budgetary procedures are designed to meet the Committee's needs.

In preparing their report and bringing forth recommendations for improvement, the management consultants should examine, among other matters, the following:

 * operational policies, criteria and frameworks for decision-making
 * strategic and work planning
 * workload and division of work
 * human resource capacity (skills sets, staff/contractor mix)
 * technical infrastructure and equipment
 * the quality and timeliness of advice to the Committee
 * internal and external communications strategies
 * accounting procedures related to other sources of income.

The methodology should include interviews with key stakeholders, including but not necessarily limited to Committee members, advisory bodies and World Heritage staff, to determine needs and expectations.

At the appropriate time, the Chairperson will call a meeting of the Consultative Body to review these matters."

This proposal was unanimously approved by the Committee. The Delegate of France requested that the income received from contracts on promotional activities carried out by the Centre over and above the amounts foreseen in the budget be used to cover the costs of this evaluation, if need be. The Delegate also recommended the use of the Reserve Fund could be made available for this purpose.