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Committee Decisions

28 COM 15A.3

World Heritage properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families of the park staff who lost theirlives in trying to protect the World Heritage properties;

2. Commends "Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature" (ICCN) andespecially its dedicated field staff, UNESCO and its partners in the project“Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict” for their on-goingefforts to protect the integrity and the World Heritage values of the properties;Decisions adopted at the 28th session of the World Heritage WHC-04/28 COM/26, p.52 Committee (Suzhou, 2004)

3. Expresses its satisfaction that the installation of the DRC Transition Governmentand the deployment of United Nations Organisation Mission in the DemocraticRepublic of Congo (MONUC) around some of the properties has put an end to any of the hostilities in and around the 5 World Heritage properties and hasenabled the management authority ICCN to regain control of parts of some of the properties;

4. Reiterates its serious concern about the continuing threats to the properties, especially encroachment and extraction of natural resources, including mining,with the consent of local political or military authorities and the poaching andivory trafficking by armed groups, including former rebel troops that areawaiting demobilisation or integration in the national army;

5. Expresses special concern on the sudden upsurge in poaching in the GarambaNational Park by Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) fighters which is threatening with extinction the last population of the northern white rhino;

6. Urges the Transition Government of DRC to take all necessary steps to restorethe integrity of the properties, especially of the Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks, by taking urgent measures to evacuate all illegal settlements and halt all illegal resource extraction;

7. Also urges the Transition Government of DRC to pull all military positions, including former rebel troops awaiting demobilization or integration in thenational army, out of the 5 World Heritage properties and station them atsufficient distance from the properties and requests MONUC to pay particular attention to the demobilization and disarmament of armed groups inside and inthe immediate vicinity of the properties;

8. Requests the Director General of UNESCO to use UN and other appropriate diplomatic channels to influence high level SPLA officials, urging them to puta halt to the poaching by their fighters as well as an immediate retreat of SPLAtroops from the vicinity of the Garamba National Park;

9. Commends the Director-General of UNESCO for the organization of the highlevel conference on the conservation of the DRC World Heritage properties inSeptember 2004 and invites all State Parties to the World Heritage Convention,as well as international donor agencies, foundations and the private sector to support this initiative and post-conference rehabilitation of the five WorldHeritage properties;

10. Invites the World Heritage Centre to intensify its co-operation with the related Conventions, e.g. the Convention on the International Trade in EndangeredSpecies (CITES) and other relevant UN bodies for the conservation of theproperties;

11. Requests the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, in consultation with the StateParty, to undertake a mission to Virunga, Kahuzi-Biega and Garamba NationalParks, and the Okapi Faunal Reserve to assess their current state of conservation and submit a report for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 29thsession in 2005;

12. Requests the Director-General of UNESCO to contact urgently the President of Rwanda to request information on the deforestation in the Mikeno sector of theVirunga National Park, which is allegedly reported to be occurring with thesupport of military commanders of the Rwanda Defence Forces and to invite the Government of Rwanda to cooperate with the Transition Government of DRC inthis regard and respect the integrity of the Property;

13. Decides to retain the Garamba, Salonga, Kahuzi Biega and Virunga National Parks and the Okapi Wildife Reserve on the List of World Heritage in Danger.