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Decision : CONF 002 XIV
Revision of the Operational Guidelines

56. The Committee examined Document SC-91/CONF.002/10 and recommended that the Secretariat in co-operation with the International Union for Geological Sciences (IUGS), IUCN, and other experts proceed with the revision of the natural heritage criteria to reflect separately geological, biological, ecological and aesthetic phenomena and modify the requested conditions of integrity accordingly. The Committee requested the Secretariat and IUCN to co-operate in the revision of the natural heritage criteria and the conditions of integrity in order to submit draft proposals for the consideration of the Bureau in mid-1992.

57. The Committee decided to include in the Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention the additional points proposed in Document SC-91/CONF.002/12.

58. As requested by the Committee, the Secretariat drew up a draft criterion for cultural landscapes and presented it to the fifteenth session of the Bureau. The Bureau found this draft criterion interesting and after having suggested a few amendments, asked ICOMOS and the Secretariat to draw up jointly an appropriate version taking into account these amendments. Two meetings permitted an exchange of ideas in this respect. A meeting of a working group on cultural landscapes, organized by United Kingdom's ICOMOS Committee, was held in York last November and another meeting between ICOMOS and the Secretariat was held at the beginning of December. These meetings have suggested that the elaboration of such a criterion seemed premature. As a consequence, the Secretariat entirely agreed with the observation contained in the document presented by ICOMOS submitted to the fifteenth session of the Committee.

59. The Committee asked the two non-governmental organizations to express their points of view on the elaboration of a criterion concerning cultural landscapes.

60. ICOMOS was not completely satisfied with the new version proposed by the UNESCO Secretariat. They considered that first of all a definition of this concept, as well as a philosophy of conservation specific to such a type of site, should be elaborated. ICOMOS intended to pursue its work on this issue in collaboration with the Secretariat.

61. The representative of IUCN recalled his views on the issue. The addition of such a criterion to those determining inscription of World Heritage cultural sites would affect in certain instances the natural sites and, in his view not all States Parties were in agreement with this addition. This would accentuate the already existing imbalance in favour of cultural sites which at present comprise three-fourths of inscribed sites. The disparity in geographical distribution of World Heritage sites would be further widened leading to a greater over-representation of sites listed in Europe. Nevertheless, he informed the Committee that this issue will be discussed during the next World Parks Congress in February 1992.

62. A member of the Committee pointed out that the elaboration of a definition requires a long-term effort as well as the creation of specific conservation instruments (charters, recommendations and legislations).

63. Referring to certain hesitations on the part of IUCN towards the elaboration of such a criterion, and to the reservations expressed by ICOMOS, a member of the Committee suggested that the Committee might appeal to another organization to solve this problem.

64. Another Committee member indicated that in establishing specific criteria to cultural landscapes, the spirit of the Convention must be faithfully respected (in particular Articles 1 and 2). Other members expressed their interest in the definition of the criterion and said that it must be elaborated as soon as possible, but after profound reflection (particularly with regard to relations between environment and heritage protection), and taking into account the criterion of universality that distinguishes the spirit of the Convention.

65. The Committee decided that, taking into account in particular the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, the Secretariat (Division of Ecological Sciences and Physical Heritage Division) should continue to work towards finalizing the definition of the criteria specific to cultural landscapes in collaboration with ICOMOS and IUCN and in association with other competent partners in the field, such as the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA).

Themes: Operational Guidelines
Year: 1991
Decision Code: CONF 002 XIV