Monitoring of the State of Conservation of the World Heritage Cultural Properties: General Issues
B. Cultural Properties
34. At the request of the Chairman, the Secretariat informed the Committee of its observations concerning the results at the present stage of implementation of the experimental monitoring system adopted by the Committee at its eleventh session. The attention of the Committee was drawn to the difficulties of a number of States in meeting the deadlines; a modified timetable was suggested, so as to enable both the Secretariat and ICOMOS to process replies and to report to the Bureau before reporting to the Committee. The Secretariat stated that the results obtained were encouraging, but that conclusions would be premature. It therefore suggested that implementation of the system be extended for another year. As requested by the Chairman, ICOMOS then stated that the information provided, although necessary and valuable, was insufficient. Exceedingly brief answers provided little information on the extent of danger referred to and very succinct analyses prevented any serious evaluation of problems raised. He further regretted the lack of information on museum installations on archaeological sites and the lack of data on the environment. To conclude, he stated that procedures could no doubt be improved, either by reformulating the questionnaire or by encouraging States to answer in greater detail.
35. Several members, however, were doubtful as regards the usefulness and efficiency of the questionnaire in its present form. One speaker suggested that it might be considered an aide-memoire to remind the States of the need to present a report on the state of conservation of their properties. He further wondered whether a single questionnaire was applicable to all types of properties and suggested reflection on this matter. He added that it might be proper to distinguish between simple and complex properties, between urban centres and archaeological sites, etc.
36. A member suggested that an explanatory letter be attached to the questionnaire, to explain to States Members as clearly as possible the objectives of the Committee with respect to the monitoring system. Another member backed this proposal and further suggested sending a new letter to the States who had submitted incomplete answers. A member felt that it would be desirable to attach typical examples of satisfactory answers to the questionnaire as models. It was concluded however that the experiment should be pursued and that the state of conservation of the next fifty cultural properties be examined in 1989 (Annex II). The Secretariat would report to the Committee at its next session. This proposal was adopted by the Committee, which further approved the new timetable proposed by the Secretariat.
37. The representative of UNDP expressed to the Committee his views on the monitoring system. In his opinion, monitoring, technical cooperation, planning and evaluation were closely linked in any project. Any efficient monitoring system would require adequate strategies and methodologies. It would have to be a dynamic process, to be initiated and implemented in the field to the extent possible. Monitoring was also a mode of cooperation and therefore an excellent means to link various sectors beyond culture and nature. In this respect, he noted the very close relationship between conservation and the environment. Finally, he stated that he was ready to cooperate with the Secretariat, ICOMOS, ICCROM and governments in all monitoring activities. Several Committee members expressed their appreciation of the UNDP Representative's comment.
38. In the context of the statement of a member of the Committee, the representative of ICCROM drew the Committee's attention to the specific problem of historic towns and to the need to define the principles and objectives of conservation in each case. He confirmed ICCROM's eagerness to co-operate with the Committee in all aspects of monitoring and training. One member of the Committee then underlined the need for joint reflection on methods of intervention and techniques for the restoration of ancient structures. The representative of ICOM, by means of a precise example, drew the attention of the Committee to the importance of museums in the global process of conservation and rehabilitation of historical towns. The Committee took note of these comments.
39. The importance of conserving the environment of cultural properties was stressed by the representative of France, who referred to the problem of Mont Saint-Michel, a site where the environmental issue was particularly crucial. The Committee noted the information he provided on methods of intervention used by the French authorities at this site and strongly encouraged them to pursue such work.
40. The representative of Senegal requested a progress report on the international campaign for the protection of Goree and inquired about the procedures for the inscription of this property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Secretariat provided him with the information requested.