1.         Kakadu National Park (Australia) (C/N 147quater)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1981

Criteria  (i)(vi)(vii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/147/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/147/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

October 1998: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / IUCN joint mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/147/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: At its twentieth extraordinary session (Merida, 1996), the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee took note of information provided by IUCN on potential threats from a uranium mine in the Jabiluka Mineral Lease, one of three enclaves within the boundaries of Kakadu National Park. IUCN tabled Resolution 1.104 on “Conservation of Kakadu World Heritage Site, Australia”, adopted by the World Conservation Congress in Montreal, Canada in October 1996. The Resolution urged the Government of Australia to prevent the development of Jabiluka and Koongarra uranium mines should it be shown that such mining would threaten the Park’s World Heritage values. At the time, the Australian Delegation referred to a strengthening in the protection of Australian World Heritage properties that would result from restructuring of federal agencies. At the twentieth session of the Committee (Merida, 1996), IUCN stated that - due to lack of sufficient resources - it was not possible to prepare detailed reports on Kakadu National Park or other Australian World Heritage properties. The Australian Delegation informed the Committee that Australia had no essential problems with the World Conservation Congress resolution and that a number of steps and actions had been taken to mitigate described threats to Australian World Heritage properties, including Kakadu National Park.

At its twenty-first session (Paris, 1997), the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee received a written and oral report from IUCN on the state of conservation of several Australian World Heritage properties including Kakadu National Park. The Bureau was informed by the Australian Delegation that the Government would continue to maintain its commitment to respect the integrity of its World Heritage sites. The Chairperson ruled that issues raised in the IUCN report should not be further considered, because in many cases the States Parties had not been given the opportunity to examine the issues raised, to verify their accuracy and to respond. The twenty-first extraordinary session of the Bureau (November 1997) received a report from IUCN that 77 concerns had been identified over the uranium mine proposal and the Australian Supervising Scientist had also suggested that a new EIA would be needed should the location of the mill be changed. IUCN reported that they had received reports from Australian environmental groups concerned about the potential impacts and that some of them had proposed the site should be considered for the List of World Heritage in Danger. ICOMOS noted that care needed to be taken in handling the mining operation if and when it proceeds, to protect the important sacred sites and spiritual values of the area. It also expressed concern that the traditional owners had not participated in the environmental impact statement. ICOMOS emphasized the need for continuous monitoring of the condition of the cultural sites in the close vicinity of the proposed mine.

Australia advised that the 77 "concerns" referred to by IUCN were in fact conditions that had been placed on the mining company by the Government to ensure protection of the World Heritage values. Australia stated that mining would not proceed until these conditions were met. Australia recognized the issue of Aboriginal involvement as important and stated that the Australian Government and the mining company have committed themselves to ongoing consultation with the Aboriginal people. The Bureau was informed that the Australian Government had commissioned an independent social impact study, at the request of the traditional owners, and was responding to the outcome. Australia added that there has been uranium mining in the area but outside the World Heritage site for 20 years with no significant environmental effects, with independent supervision and monitoring by an independent scientific statutory body.

The Bureau invited the Australian authorities to provide the World Heritage Centre with any new information concerning the proposed uranium mine at Jabiluka in Kakadu National Park. The Australian authorities were requested to provide information pertaining to their efforts to ensure that the proponents of mining in the enclave, within but outside of the boundaries of the Park, address the seventy-seven environmental conditions imposed by the Government.

The twenty-first session of the Committee (Naples, 1997) noted the deliberations of the extraordinary Bureau session.

The twenty-second session of the Bureau (Paris, June 1998) noted that additional information concerning the state of conservation of Kakadu National Park had been provided by the Australian Government. The Secretariat referred to a letter received from the lawyer for the Mirrar Aboriginal people (the traditional owners of the area covered by the Jabiluka Mineral Lease) who commented that the responses by the Bureau and Committee on the state of conservation of Kakadu at its twenty-first session were "entirely unsatisfactory". The Secretariat also informed the Bureau that a submission from four scientists in Australia had been received in which they criticize the quality and process of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed Jabulika uranium mine. The scientists stated that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) largely ignored cultural heritage and called for a new EIS to include proper assessment of the ecological and cultural impacts of the proposed mine. Furthermore, the Secretariat and the Chairperson referred to the many letters they had received which expressed concern about the state of conservation of Kakadu National Park and that called for the inclusion of Kakadu on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

IUCN presented a detailed statement concerning the state of conservation of Kakadu. In summary, IUCN suggested that Resolution 1.104 on “Conservation of Kakadu World Heritage Site, Australia”, adopted at the World Conservation Congress in 1996 and the precautionary principle be used to guide IUCN's advice to the Committee. IUCN recommended that mining activity should be deferred until the Committee was satisfied with the implementation of the seventy-seven environmental conditions and requested the necessary information and resources for IUCN to participate in a multidisciplinary mission to the site and report to the twenty-second session of the Bureau and Committee if requested by the Bureau.

The Australian Government provided information concerning the assessment and approvals process that had been required prior to the commencement of the development of the mine. ICOMOS expressed the need to better assess the full diversity of cultural values, including spiritual values and living cultural traditions, at Kakadu and in the Jabiluka Mineral Lease. ICOMOS also commented that at the time of inclusion in the List (in three stages, 1981, 1987 and 1992), nomination as a cultural landscape had not been possible. ICOMOS raised the possibility of Kakadu being considered in the future as a cultural landscape of potential World Heritage value.

The Bureau reached consensus on the need to proceed on the basis of the precautionary principle even in the absence of complete data. The Bureau agreed that the information about the state of conservation of Kakadu presented to the Committee and Bureau required greater clarity. The Bureau therefore concluded that the multifaceted environmental, cultural and legal issues relating to the conservation of the site highlighted the need for a fact-finding mission. The Australian Observer reiterated that the record of conservation at Kakadu was very good and that the Australian Government did not consider that the World Heritage values were threatened. She stated that, for these reasons, a mission would be welcomed.

The Bureau also noted the extent and level of representation to it concerning uranium mining in the area of Kakadu National Park. The Bureau considered that uranium mining in an area of high natural and cultural values is of sensitivity and potential concern. The Bureau noted that the Australian Observers had reported in detail on the progress to date in imposing conditions on mining such that it does not affect the World Heritage or other natural or cultural values in this area. Because of the importance, complexity and sensitivity of the issue, however, the Bureau proposed that a mission to Kakadu be undertaken by a team headed by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee with the participation of the Director of the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and ICOMOS. This mission would examine the situation further, have discussions with relevant Aboriginal groups, officials, non-governmental organisations and the mining company, and report to the Bureau and Committee sessions in November-December 1998.

An expert mission was fielded to Kakadu National Park, Australia from 26 October to 1 November 1998. The mission report (see Information Document WHC­99/CONF.204/INF.9A) was subsequently presented to the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau (27-28 November 1998) and the twenty-second session of the World Heritage Committee (30 November –5 December 1998) in Kyoto, Japan.

The mission report focused primarily on threats from the Jabiluka mining proposal posing ascertained and potential dangers to the World Heritage values of Kakadu National Park. The report presents sixteen recommendations concerning mitigating measures and recommended that the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka should not proceed. IUCN presented a position statement in which they expressed their belief that the conditions existed for inscribing Kakadu National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger. ICOMOS gave general support to the mission report. The Observer of Australia stated that Australia was committed to meeting its obligations under the Convention. He referred to the mission report as containing errors of law, fact and analysis, and recommendations that are flawed and unacceptable to the Australian Government. He requested that Australia be given time to respond to the mission report. The Bureau formulated a number of recommendations basing its work on the need to respect the rights and interests of the State Party and the obligations of the Committee and its Bureau to protect the outstanding cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park. IUCN and ICOMOS presented a joint statement that recognised the urgency of the issues being considered in light of the on-going construction of the Jabiluka mine. IUCN and ICOMOS again called for the mining and milling of uranium at Jabiluka to not proceed stating that failure to do so would diminish the standards, and risk the credibility of the World Heritage Convention.

Following the recommendations of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau, the twenty-second session, of the World Heritage Committee adopted the following decision:

The Committee recognised the report of the mission to Kakadu National Park as being both thorough and credible.

In view of the ascertained and potential dangers posed by the Jabiluka uranium mine that are noted in the report of the World Heritage mission to Kakadu, and have again been noted with concern by the Committee, IUCN, ICCROM and ICOMOS, the Committee decided the following:

  1. In light of the concerns expressed by the Delegate of Australia, the Australian authorities be requested to provide, by 15 April 1999, a detailed report on their efforts to prevent further damage and to mitigate all the threats identified in the World Heritage mission report, to the World Heritage cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park, Australia. The report should address these threats posed by the construction of the Jabiluka mine, by the mining of uranium ore at Jabiluka, and the alternatives for milling the ore at Jabiluka and Ranger. The report should be prepared in accordance with the intent of (vi) above. The report submitted by the Australian authorities should include a detailed update on the implementation of the cultural heritage management plan referred to in (iii) above and in the mission report.
  2. Immediately upon its receipt by the Secretariat, the report referred to in paragraph 1 above, be provided to ICOMOS, ICCROM and IUCN, who will ensure that the twenty-third session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee, be provided with a written independent expert review concerning the mitigation of threats posing ascertained and potential dangers to Kakadu National Park by the Jabiluka mine. The expert opinion of ICOMOS, ICCROM and IUCN will be provided to the Secretariat by 15 May 1999 for immediate distribution to members of the Bureau and the Australian authorities.
  3. The Australian authorities be requested to direct the Australian Supervising Scientist Group to conduct a full review of the scientific issues referred to in Paragraph (iv) above, to be provided to the Secretariat by 15 April 1999. The review will be submitted to peer review by an independent scientific panel composed of scientists selected by UNESCO in consultation with the International Council of Scientific Unions and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee. The report of the peer review will be provided to the Secretariat by 15 May 1999 for immediate distribution to members of the Bureau, IUCN and the Australian authorities.
  4. The reports referred to in Recommendations 1, 2 and 3 will be examined by the twenty-third session of the Bureau.
  5. The twenty-second session of the Committee has decided that an extraordinary session of the Committee, to immediately follow the twenty third session of the Bureau in July 1999, will be convened at UNESCO Headquarters to decide whether to immediately inscribe Kakadu National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

A joint statement by IUCN and ICOMOS was presented to the Committee. It stated that the conditions exist for inscribing Kakadu National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The statement also cautioned that a failure to recognise the dangers to the property would diminish the standards of, and risk prejudicing the prestige of the Convention. ICCROM called on the Committee to give proper weight to the opinion of the advisory bodies and to inscribe the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger if scientific research indicated, without any doubt, that the values of Kakadu National Park are threatened.

The Delegate of Australia read a statement in which he reiterated that Australia stands by the Convention and does not intend to allow any damage to the natural and cultural values of the World Heritage area. He stated that his Government did not consider that the values are in any form of ascertained or potential danger.

The Committee adopted an additional decision by consensus:

voluntary suspension of construction of the mine decline until the twenty-third session of the Bureau in July 1999.

The Delegate of Australia disassociated his Government from the decision.

New information: The decisions of the Committee were transmitted to the Australian Government by the World Heritage Centre. In accordance with the reporting process outlined in the decisions of the twenty-second session of the Committee, a detailed report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the Australian Government on 15 April 1999. The report is entitled “Australia’s Kakadu – Protecting World Heritage. Response by the Government of Australia to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee regarding Kakadu National Park (April 1999)” (see Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9B). The report responded to the concerns and recommendations identified in the World Heritage mission report (see Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9A).

A review of the scientific issues was performed by the Australian Supervising Scientist and a report entitled “Assessment of the Jabiluka Project: Report of the Supervising Scientist to the World Heritage Committee (April 1999)” was provided to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on 15 April 1999 (see Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9C).

A presentation on both of the reports mentioned above took place at the Australian Embassy in Paris on 15 April 1999. Many Committee members, a representative of ICOMOS and IUCN and several staff members of the World Heritage Centre attended.

The World Heritage Centre provided copies of the report included in Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9B to ICOMOS, IUCN and ICCROM for their expert review. The written independent expert review of IUCN and ICOMOS was provided to the World Heritage Centre on 15 May 1999 and transmitted to the Permanent Delegation of Australia to UNESCO (see Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9D).

The World Heritage Centre provided copies of the report included in Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9C to ICSU for review by an independent scientific panel. The panel’s written review was provided to the World Heritage Centre on 14 May 1999 and was transmitted to the Permanent Delegation of Australia to UNESCO on 17 May 1999 (see Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9E).

At the time of preparation of this working document a number of additional responses to the Australian Government’s response to the mission report and the Australian Supervising Scientist Report were received by the World Heritage Centre. Each submission was transmitted to the Permanent Delegation of Australia to UNESCO for comment and to the Chairperson of the Committee and advisory bodies for information.

In addition, many letters calling on the Committee to inscribe Kakadu National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger have been received from individuals and organisations from around the world. A Resolution was presented to the Plenary Session of the Fourth World Archaeological Congress (South Africa January 1999) and then adopted by the World Archaeological Congress. The Resolution called on the immediate halt to preparatory work on the mine and for inclusion of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. A Resolution proposed by the Australian Greens and the European Federation of Green Parties was adopted by the European Parliament on the subject of the Jabiluka Uranium Mine, Australia. The Resolution included a call on the Australian Government to abide by the decision of the World Heritage Committee to halt work on the mine immediately.

The Chairperson of the Committee wrote to the Minister for the Environment in Australia on a number of occasions, each time urging the voluntary suspension of the construction of the mine decline. The Minister replied stating that Australia did not consider that the World Heritage values of Kakadu are under any form of ascertained or potential danger. A number of his replies questioned the independence of the advice provided by IUCN and ICOMOS. His replies included assurances to the Chairperson that the Government was committed to the protection of Kakadu and would ensure that the rigorous environmental requirements and conditions imposed on the mine operator were met.

Several letters addressed to the Chairperson were received from the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation. The letters requested that Kakadu National Park be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and called for the cessation of construction of the Jabiluka underground mine shaft as they claimed the Boyweg-Almudj sacred site complex would be desecrated. The Permanent Delegation of Australia to UNESCO, the Chairperson and the advisory bodies were informed of all of the above.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to examine Information Documents WHC­99/CONF.204/INF.9B to 9E and other information made available at the time of its session. The Bureau may wish to transmit its findings and recommendations to the third extraordinary session of the Committee and request the Committee to decide whether or not to immediately inscribe Kakadu National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations:

Third extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee, 12 July 1999 (WHC-99/CONF.209/5)

 

Decision of the third extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee concerning Kakadu National Park, Australia

1.         The Committee,

(a)    Emphasizesthe importance of Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11 of the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention.  In particular the Committee emphasizes Article 6 (1) which states that:

Whilst fully respecting the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage (…) is situated, and without prejudice to property right provided by national legislation, the States Parties to this Convention recognize that such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate.

(b)   Recalls that the twenty-second session of the World Heritage Committee in Kyoto (1998) expressed “grave concern” over the ascertained and potential dangers to the World Heritage cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park posed by  the proposal for uranium mining and milling at Jabiluka;

(c)    Notes that the deliberations of the twenty-third session of the Bureau and of the third extraordinary session of the Committee demand the continuous serious consideration of the conditions at Kakadu National Park by the Committee with reference to Section III, in particular Paragraph 86 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage;

(d)   Expresses its deep regret that the voluntary suspension of construction of the mine decline at Jabiluka until the twenty-third session of the Committee (requested by the twenty-second session of the Committee) has not taken place;

(e)    Is gravely concernedabout the serious impacts to the living cultural values of Kakadu National Park posed by the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka. The Committee is of the opinion that confidence and trust building through dialogue are crucial for there to be any resolution of issues relating to the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka.  In particular, a more substantial and continuous dialogue needs to be established between the Australian Government and the traditional owners of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease, the Mirrar Aboriginal people;

(f)     Is concernedabout the lack of progress with the preparation of a cultural heritage management plan for Jabiluka;

(g)    Continues to have significant reservationsconcerning the scientific uncertainties relating to mining and milling at Jabiluka.

2.         The Committee,

(a)    Recognizes, with appreciation, that the Australian Government, Australian Supervising Scientist, advisory bodies (IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM) and independent scientific panel (ISP) established by the International Council of Science (ICSU) have provided the reports requested by the twenty-second session of the Committee (Kyoto, 1998);

(b)   Acknowledges that there are indications that a new dialogue between the Mirrar Aboriginal people and the Australian Government has begun in relation to issues concerning the Jabiluka uranium mine and mill.  The Committee considers this to be an essential step in finding a constructive solution to the issues raised by the UNESCO mission to Kakadu National Park and encourages the Australian Government to intensify their efforts in this regard and pursue with vigor the deepening of its dialogue with the Mirrar Aboriginal people;

(c)    Notes that the Australian Government has stated (in document WHC-99/CONF.205/INF.3G entitled “Protecting Kakadu National Park” submitted by the Australian Government) that “full scale commercial mining at Jabiluka would only be reached about 2009 following the scaling down of production at the Ranger mine so that two mines would not be in full production simultaneously”.  The Committee further notes that the Minister for Environment and Heritage has stated that there shall be no parallel commercial scale operation of the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines located in enclaves surrounded by, but not included, in Kakadu National Park.  The Committee considers that it is the clear responsibility of the Australian Government to regulate the activities of a private company, such as Energy Resources of Australia, Inc, in relation to the proposed mining and milling activities at Jabiluka to ensure the protection of the World Heritage values of Kakadu National Park;

(d)   Notes that the Australian Supervising Scientist (ASS) has assessed the report of the independent scientific panel (ISP) established by the International Council of Science (ICSU) and seeks a dialogue with the ISP to resolve outstanding questions relating to scientific issues concerning mining and milling at Jabiluka.

3.                  With consideration of 1 and 2 above, the Committee will remain vigilant in reviewing and assessing the progress made by the Australian Government.  To this end the Committee requests that the Australian Government submit a progress report on the following issues by 15 April 2000 for examination by the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee:

(a)    progress made with cultural mapping of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease and the Boyweg-Almudj site and its boundaries and the completion of the cultural heritage management plan with the necessary co-operation of the Mirrar, and appropriate involvement of other stakeholders and ICOMOS and ICCROM;

(b)   progress in the implementation, in response to the Kakadu Region Social Impact Study (KRSIS), of a comprehensive package of social and welfare benefits, together with the Northern Territory Government, for the benefit of the Aboriginal communities of Kakadu (including the Mirrar);

(c)    more precise details of the output and scale of any parallel activities at the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines as well as on any legal provisions taken in that respect.

4.         To resolve the remaining scientific issues, such as those raised in the ISP report, the Committee asks ICSU to continue the work of the ISP (with the addition of any additional members) to assess, in co-operation with the Supervising Scientist and IUCN, the Supervising Scientist’s response to the ISP report. The report of the ISP’s assessment should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by 15 April 2000 for examination by the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2000.

 

New information:       The decision of the third extraordinary session of the Committee on 12 July 1999 (see above) concerning the state of conservation of Kakadu National Park was transmitted to all members of the Committee and the advisory bodies on 9 August 1999.

The Centre received a fax dated 13 August 1999 from the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation forwarding a copy of a letter from Ms Yvonne Margarula (Chairperson of the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation and Senior Traditional Owner of the Mirrar Aboriginal clan) to the Minister for Environment and Heritage in Australia. Ms Margarula's letter referred to further drilling by Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. (ERA) within an area described as the "Boyweg-Almudj Sacred Site Complex". She called for the immediate halt to the drilling programme until the completion of an inquiry under the 1984 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act and the Cultural Heritage Management Plan. The Director of the Centre transmitted a copy of Ms Margarula's letter to the Permanent Delegation of Australia to UNESCO seeking clarification and comment concerning the information contained in the letter.

Under cover of a fax of 16 September 1999 a copy of the Minister's reply to Ms Margarula of 9 September 1999 was sent to the Chairperson of the Committee. The Minister's letter noted Ms Margarula's concerns in relation to the drilling programme and stated that ERA was operating consistently with the commitments the Minister had made to the third extraordinary session of the Committee.  The Minister stated that he had been informed that when the core sampling was complete, ERA would be placing the mine at Jabiluka on a stand-by and environmental monitoring management basis.

In a letter dated 7 October 1999 the Minister informed the Centre that underground drill sampling at the proposed Jabiluka mine site was completed on 14 September 1999. The Minister also reported that he had nominated a prominent lawyer to conduct the inquiry concerning the area described as the "Boyweg-Almudj Sacred Site Complex" under Section 10 of the 1984 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act. The Minister also informed the Centre of on-going discussions with the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation and with the Chairman of the Kakadu Region Social Impact Study (KRSIS).

On 15October 1999, the Centre received a report from the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation indicating that the Mirrar had withdrawn their application for emergency and permanent protection of the "Boyweg-Almudj Sacred Site Complex" on 13 October 1999, quoting the "absolute failure of the Australian Government to address Mirrar concerns about lack of meaningful participation in the assessment process."

The Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation concluded their report by claiming that there has been a failure of process under Australian legislation, and requested that ICOMOS and ICCROM representatives visit in the near future to assist in the development of a “World’s Best Practice” sacred site assessment process.  They believe that Australian legislative processes have been exhausted, and request assistance from ICOMOS and ICCROM in the completion of baseline anthropological studies to be used in the preparation of the Cultural Heritage Management Plan.

On receipt of the report referred to above, the Director of the Centre invited the State Party to provide comments on the information received from the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation.

With reference to paragraph 4 of the decision of the third extraordinary session of the Committee, the Centre received a letter from the Australian Supervising Scientist on 21 October 1999 outlining suggestions as to how to proceed with the assessment of the remaining scientific issues.  The Supervising Scientist also expressed his concern that there may be insufficient time prior to 15 April 2000 for completion of the necessary work program given the delay in the continuation of the work of the Independent Scientific Panel of ICSU. The Supervising Scientist’s letter was forwarded to the Chairperson, ICSU and IUCN for their information.

On 25 October 1999 the Centre received a letter from the Secretary of Environment Australia providing a report on progress made since the third extraordinary session of the Committee.  The concise report recalls that a formal report will be submitted in April 2000 in accordance with the request of the third extraordinary session of the Committee.  In addition, the Secretary's report responds to claims made in the report of the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation (referred to above) concerning the application made under Section 10 of the 1984 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act for a declaration of protection for an area described as the “Boyweg-Almudj Sacred Site Complex”.  The Secretary's report provides a timeline detailing the steps taken by the Australian Government in considering the Section 10 application and states that every step in the process has been consistent with the requirements of Australian law and the commitments made by the Government to the third extraordinary session of the Committee.  In summary the Secretary's report highlighted the following results:

The Secretary's letter also referred to ERA as having indicated that it will implement the commitments agreed by Australia at the third extraordinary session of the Committee.  He noted that this would be supported by legally binding arrangements between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments.

Furthermore, the Secretary expressed his disappointment that the delay in the commencement of the assessment of the remaining scientific issues may make it impossible for the ISP of ICSU and the Supervising Scientist to provide the Committee with further advice by the 15 April 2000.

Finally, the Secretary of Environment Australia informed the Centre that the Aboriginal traditional owners of the Koongarra mine site (located within an enclave in the southern portion of Kakadu National Park) had recently instructed the Northern [Aboriginal] Land Council (NLC) to continue negotiating an agreement with the mining company (Koongarra Ltd).  The Secretary informed the Centre that an agreement between Koongarra Ltd and the NLC is a necessary pre-requisite to the grant of an exploration license and is required under Northern Territory law.  He noted that negotiations in relation to Koongarra have been taking place for about 22 years and that the NLC has the agreement of the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs for an extension of the statutory negotiating period until 28 January 2000.

The letter of the Secretary of Environment Australia was forwarded to the Chairperson, the Advisory Bodies and ICSU for their information.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies

N/A

Decision Adopted: 3 EXT.COM III.1

The Chairperson drew the attention of the Committee to the two main documents of relevance to their deliberations. WHC-99/CONF.205/5 entitled "Report on the state of conservation of Kakadu National Park, Australia" provided a summary of information and deliberations concerning Kakadu up until the date of finalization of the document at the end of May. WHC-99/CONF.205/INF.4 included the record of the deliberations of the twenty-third session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee (5-10 July 1999).

Decision Adopted: 3 EXT.COM III.2

The Chairperson reminded Committee members that a mission was sent to Kakadu National Park in late 1998, at the request of the twenty-second session of the Bureau in June 1998. The mission was led by the former Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Professor Francioni of Italy. Professor Francioni reported on the mission at the twentysecond session of the Committee in Kyoto in 1998.

Decision Adopted: 3 EXT.COM III.3

The mission report (WHC-99/CONF.205/INF.3A) focused primarily on ascertained and potential dangers to the World Heritage values of Kakadu National Park posed by the Jabiluka mining proposal, and presented a total of 16 recommendations.

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.47

The Secretariat introduced the discussion by referring to the summary of recent deliberations by the Committee and its Bureau concerning Kakadu National Park contained in WHC-99/CONF.204/5 that also provided information concerning the implementation of the decisions of the twenty-second session of the Committee up until the date of finalization of the document at the end of May. The subsequent decisions of the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-second session in Kyoto in December 1998 are included in their entirety in the same working document. 

In accordance with the reporting process outlined in the decisions of the twenty-second session of the Committee, a detailed report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the Australian Government on 15 April 1999. The report is entitled “Australia’s Kakadu – Protecting World Heritage.  Response by the Government of Australia to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee regarding Kakadu National Park (April 1999)” (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9B).  The report responds to the concerns and recommendations identified in the World Heritage mission report (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9A).  The Secretariat thanked the Australian authorities for having arranged for the translation and production of this report in sufficient numbers for the Bureau session and the third extraordinary session of the Committee.

A review of the scientific issues was performed by the Australian Supervising Scientist and a report entitled “Assessment of the Jabiluka Project: Report of the Supervising Scientist to the World Heritage Committee (April 1999)” was provided to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on 15 April 1999 (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9C). The Secretariat thanked the Australian authorities for having arranged for the translation of the executive summary and production of sufficient copies of this report.

The World Heritage Centre provided copies of the report included in WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9B to ICOMOS, IUCN and ICCROM for their review.  The joint and separate statements of IUCN and ICOMOS and a report provided by ICCROM were made available to the Bureau as WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9D.

The World Heritage Centre provided copies of the report included in WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9C to ICSU (the International Council for Science) for review by an independent scientific panel.  The panel’s written review was provided to the World Heritage Centre on 14 May 1999 (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9E).  The Secretariat informed the Bureau of the presence of a representative of ICSU and the leader of ICSU’s independent scientific panel (ISP), Professor Brian Wilkinson.

The Chairperson thanked the Australian Government and the Australian Supervising Scientist, together with the advisory bodies, ICSU and members of the Independent Scientific panel for having provided their reports according to the very tight timeframe set by the Committee in Kyoto.

Since the preparation of the working document at the end of May, the World Heritage Centre had continued to receive further information and comments concerning the state of conservation of Kakadu National Park. The Secretariat then proceeded to briefly summarize these for the benefit of Bureau members.  In doing so, the Secretariat again noted that all correspondence and reports received by the Centre concerning Kakadu National Park were transmitted to the Permanent Delegation of Australia to UNESCO for their comment.  Copies were also sent to the advisory bodies and to the Chairperson for their information.  In addition, many letters calling on the Committee to inscribe Kakadu National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger have been received from individuals and organisations from around the world.

From the end of May the Centre had been informed of contacts made between the Australian Supervising Scientist, the Environmental Research Institute (ERISS) and the independent scientific panel established by ICSU.  Records of phone conversations between these parties were forwarded to the Centre.

On 2 June 1999 the Chairperson of the Committee received a letter from the Chief Executive of ERA in which the Chief Executive sought to provide his perspectives on claims made by the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation concerning both the physical and the cultural environment, including sites claimed by the Mirrar Aboriginal people as sacred.

On 9 June a revised submission was received from scientists from the Australian National University who responded to the Report of the Supervising Scientist. The report presents eight detailed conclusions some of which concede that some of the scientists’ concerns were met in the report of the Australian Supervising Scientist.  Other conclusions made by the scientists include reference to continuing concerns.

The Chairperson of the Committee wrote to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in Australia on a number of occasions, each time urging the voluntary suspension of the construction of the mine decline at Jabiluka as had been requested by the Committee at its twenty-second session in Kyoto.  On 16 June 1999 the Chairperson provided copies of the exchange of correspondence between himself and the Minister to all members of the Committee.  A summary of that exchange of correspondence is included in WHC-99/CONF.204/5.

On 25 June the Secretary of Environment Australia wrote to the Director of the Centre with reference to a letter from the Colong Foundation for Wilderness that had been received by the Centre on 22 June and which referred to some 29 mineral leases over which the Colong Foundation claimed that Kakadu’s Plan of Management does not operate. The Secretary’s detailed letter of response referred to a High Court of Australia decision in 1997 stating that Australia continues to exercise its responsibilities under the Convention and domestic World Heritage legislation in relation to these mineral lease areas and “the Minister for Environment and Heritage has stated very clearly that there will not be mining in these leases”.

Also on 25 June, the Secretary of Environment Australia provided details concerning applications for protection lodged by the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation under the provisions of the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 over an area at Jabiluka.  The letter refers to Senator Hill as having been “unable to make a Section 9 emergency declaration for the specified area, on the basis of available evidence”.  The letter goes on to state that “The Minister is now giving consideration to the application under Section 10 of the Act.  This part of the Act provides for long term protection of an area”.  The letter also provides details of the processes required for consideration of the Section 10 application.

On 29 June the Chairperson received a letter from Professor Nicholas Robinson, from the Center for Environmental Legal Studies at the School of Law at Pace University in New York.  The letter refers to legal issues and concerns relating to the state of conservation of Kakadu National Park.

On 30 June an extract of the Report of the Australian Senate Inquiry into the Jabiluka Uranium Mine Project entitled «Jabiluka: The Undermining of Process» was received.  The Report was prepared by the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee.

Also on 30 June, the Centre received a further report from the Australian authorities entitled “Response to the ICSU Review of the Supervising Scientists report to the World Heritage Committee”.  Following the receipt of a written request from the Permanent Delegation of Australia to UNESCO this report was provided to members of the Bureau as WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9F.

Finally, on 6 July, a complete copy of the Australian Senate Committee report was provided to the Centre by the observer from the Australian Democrats attending the Bureau session.  The report of the Australian Senate Committee inquiry into the Jabiluka Uranium Mine Project contains separate majority and minority reports.  Also on 6 July, Senator Hill wrote to the Director of the Centre drawing his particular attention to the conclusion of the minority report, issued by government members.

On 7 July, the Bureau heard presentations from the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator the Hon. Robert Hill, (included in its entirety as Annex VI.1), the representatives of IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM (included in their entirety in Annexes VI.2, VI.3 and VI.4) and the leader of the Independent Scientific Panel (ISP) of ICSU (included in its entirety in Annex VI.5).

Following the above statements, the Delegate of Japan began by stating that the Bureau first needed to distinguish between two aspects of this very difficult issue, namely the scientific review aspect and the cultural aspect.  Regarding the issue of scientific review, he expressed profound gratitude for the dedicated work of Professor Wilkinson and his colleagues who worked with limited time and without access to all necessary data and information. He also noted the very sincere work of the Australian Supervising Scientist.  He recognized the fact that the ICSU experts’ report did not affirm the existence of any ascertained danger despite frequent reference to uncertainties or insufficiency of data and information. He also took note that the Australian Supervising Scientist accepted and agreed with a number of the recommendations contained in the ISP report, as reflected in his response to the ISP report (WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9F).

Turning to the cultural aspect, the Delegate of Japan commented that there existed a real problem at Kakadu.  He stated that he believed that the shared concerns among the Bureau members are the difficulties to assess such cultural elements as the spiritual linkages between people and nature, the impact upon living cultures as well as the impact upon the cultural landscape.  He commented that it seemed that the cultural assessment is, in a sense, much more difficult than scientific assessment and stressed that such cultural factors as living culture and cultural landscapes have gained more and more weight in the work of the Committee and Bureau through the history of  the World Heritage regime.  In this regard, the Delegate of Japan said that he shared the serious concern presented by ICOMOS about possible serious impacts of the Jabiluka mining project upon the living culture of Mirrar traditional owners.

The Delegate of Japan  noted that he had listened with great care to the presentation made by Senator Hill from the Observer Delegation of Australia. He commented that his Delegation was very interested in several points in the statement from Australia. In particular, Japan considers it to be very important that ERA have suggested to defer commercial mining at Jabiluka. He commented that if his interpretation was correct, this indicated that there would be one mine instead of the original proposal for two mines in operation at the same time.  He noted that ERA was ready to postpone commercial mining at Jabiluka until such time as mining at Ranger would be terminated. The Delegate of Japan said that the new proposal from the Australian Delegation deserved, in his view, the serious scrutiny of the Bureau as its implications had relevance to various aspects of the Kakadu issue.

Finally, the Delegate of Japan underlined the need to build trust between the Aboriginal Traditional Owners and the Commonwealth Government of Australia.  He commented that everyone in the Committee is seriously concerned with the break of mutual trust between the two. In this regard he wished to support the statement of ICCROM that the work of the World Heritage Committee should be to produce a positive and constructive basis according to the aim of the Convention on a longer term perspective. He concluded by stating that he believed that the real work of the Committee and the Bureau is to create good basis for the building of trust between the Aboriginal traditional owners and the Government of Australia through dialogue.

The Delegate of Italy commented on the complexity of the issues before the Bureau.  He referred to the difficulties that would be faced by the Bureau and Committee as this was a new case to which other precedents did not relate.  He commented that courage and imagination would need to be used without jeopardising the Convention or the image of the State Party concerned.  He said that there should be no interest in finding a cosmetic solution.  What was required was a real, long-term solution soundly conceived and well balanced.   He noted that two of the reports submitted to the Bureau confirmed and endorsed the alarm expressed in the mission report.  He said that further verification was needed.  He noted that there are facts that need to be reconciled, especially from the report of the Independent Scientific Panel (ISP) established by ICSU.  He referred to new concerns relating to the cultural heritage that would need to be addressed with attention to local sensitivity and international response to social and cultural change.

The Delegate of Italy said that the system for listing properties on both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger required the consent of the State Party except in urgent cases.  He commented that in Danger listing is not a sanction and that the Committee is not a ruling court but had standards that must be set and updated.  He said that there was a need to act with respect to the Convention.

The Delegate of Cuba referred to the report of the Australian Supervising Scientist as an honest statement but noted that there are things that need to be taken into account and things to be implemented.  She noted that with continuing scientific uncertainties and the need for further analysis of the scientific information the situation remained the same as it was at the last session of the Committee in Kyoto, 1998.

The Delegate of Morocco thanked the advisory bodies and the ISP panel established by ICSU for their work saying that new light had been provided on an issue of paramount importance.  He stated that Morocco was of the opinion that the deliberations concerning Kakadu could be considered to be a major task for the Committee.  He agreed with the Delegate of Japan that the major issue was one of confidence and trust.  He asked the Bureau to instill a climate of confidence and noted Morocco’s confidence in the work of the advisory bodies and the ISP panel established by ICSU.  He referred to the international responsibility to find a solution that would be appropriate given that the decision will become legal case law.  He concluded by commenting that the Bureau knows of other sites under more threat than that posed by the Jabiluka mine and therefore again restated the need to proceed with a real climate of trust and communication.

The Delegate of Korea referred to the heavy burden and pressure relating to the case of Kakadu National Park.  He commented that this case will be precedent-setting for the future of the World Heritage Committee and will determine whether the Committee will be politically and scientifically viable in the future.  He shared the view of Japan that the case referred to the relationship between people and nature and raised the question of which one comes first and noted that both are important.  He noted that because of the gravity of the issue he did not want to make a hasty decision.  He commented that there are still uncertainties and the need for future study.  He also stated that this could be a good opportunity to build trust between experts and the State Party.  The duty and responsibility of the Bureau is to urge all parties concerned to use creative ways to find a solution that would be scientifically and politically viable.

The Delegate of Benin remarked that the international community should thank Australia for having provided them with the opportunity to closely examine this new kind of situation.  He indicated that, faced with this situation, Australia as a State Party, had conducted itself in a responsible manner.  He said that in the future, the Committee should not have its hands tied, and it should take the necessary time before coming to a decision.  He indicated that the complexity of the problems, both cultural and scientific, that were being faced, did not have a black and white attitude or solution.  He recognized the spiritual importance of the land for the Aboriginal people and was of the opinion that it would be preferable to reach a consensual solution.  He requested that a closer dialogue is established in Australia with the Aboriginal people and emphasized that this step could not be restricted to a timetable set by UNESCO.  He also said that the Committee should determine the extent to which the dialogue between the Australian Government and the Aboriginal people be conducted, in order for a responsible opinion of the situation be obtained.

The Delegate of Hungary stated that, on the basis of present knowledge, written reports and discussions, the position of the Hungarian Government was that it cannot support the opening of the mine at Jabiluka at present.  He agreed with other Bureau members that this case is new and a precedent of the greatest importance to the Bureau and Committee.  He noted that the scientific review pointed to some remaining uncertainties and commented that some additional scientific investigation would need to be done before a final decision concerning the site could be made.  He agreed with the statement by other Bureau members that there needs to be caution and a consensus by the Bureau.  He noted that the issue has become political, both in and outside Australia.

The Delegate of Hungary noted that the Jabiluka project is proceeding in two stages and that the first stage of the project is complete.  The question is whether the mining process can now begin or not.  He further questioned whether archaeological investigations had been properly performed.

The Delegate of Hungary noted the importance of the Bureau’s deliberations to the Convention.  He suggested that some rethinking might be required as to whether in Danger listing is the responsibility of the Bureau and Committee with or without the consent of the State Party.  He gave great importance to the statement from the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage concerning the possible delay of mining at Jabiluka and the need to find a solution to solve the problem.  He also sought a solution between the Mirrar Aboriginal people and the Australian Government.

The Minister for Environment and Heritage from Australia thanked the Bureau for their thoughtful comments.  He stated that he too was looking for a constructive way to move forward.  He stated that his Government is proud of World Heritage in Australia and does not shy away from its responsibilities.  He noted that the case is historical and that new issues are being addressed.

The Minister questioned IUCN’s comments concerning visual encroachment to the World Heritage property.  He commented that the mineral leases were deliberately left out of the World Heritage property for this reason and questioned how issues relating to visual encroachment could have a higher value now than 18 years ago.  He asked how it made sense for the open-cut mine at Ranger to have been acceptable over the last 18 years and now for an underground mine to not be acceptable.  He asked how such a small underground mine could be said to be a visual encroachment to a World Heritage property of 20,000 square kilometres.

In noting the Bureau’s comments concerning the now evolving concepts relating to living cultural traditions he suggested that a debate on the subject could take place but questioned where the limits of such new interpretations might lie.  He questioned whether such re-interpretations can be applied retrospectively to Kakadu.  He reported that the challenging issues relating to living cultures were being addressed through the assessment of potential sacred sites and the safeguarding of all identified sites at Jabiluka.

On the scientific issues, the Minister welcomed the dialogue between the Australian Supervising Scientist and the Independent Scientific Panel (ISP) established by ICSU.  He said that he wanted, if possible, for all of the questions of the ISP to be answered.

In response to the comments from Japan, the Minister reported that ERA have made a commitment that mining at Ranger will be completed prior to full commercial mining at Jabiluka.  This pause would give the opportunity for good faith to be established and for suspicion and distrust to be overcome.  The Minister concluded by asking that a record of his statement be included in the report of the Bureau.

The Chairperson then decided to constitute an informal drafting group to be chaired by the Rapporteur, with one representative from each of the Bureau members, the Observer Delegation of Australia and a member of the Secretariat.  The Chairperson asked the group to prepare draft recommendations to be discussed by the Bureau on Friday 9 July.  The informal group after three sessions suspended its work.  The Chairperson asked the Australian Government to provide its various oral communications to the group in a written form and make it available to all members of the Bureau meeting.

The Chairperson thanked the members of the Bureau, the Observer Delegation of Australia, the leader of the independent scientific panel (ISP) established by ICSU and the representatives of the advisory bodies for their careful consideration concerning Kakadu National Park.

On 9 July, the Australian Minister for Environment and Heritage provided the document, as requested by the Chairperson to the Bureau, with a series of additional measures that the Australian Government has developed to "enhance the existing environmental protection regime governing Jabiluka and Kakadu; address the social and economic conditions of the Aboriginal communities living in Kakadu; and provide additional assurance that the cultural values of the Park – including those of the Mirrar – are protected" (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9G).

The Chairperson asked the informal drafting group to resume its work with the participation of one representative of each Bureau member.

After having reached a consensus, the informal drafting group proposed findings and recommendations for consideration and adoption by the Bureau.  The Chairperson first invited general observations on the proposal.  The Minister for Environment and Heritage of Australia acknowledged and thanked the Rapporteur and the Secretariat for their work commenting that it was evident that the drafting group had made an attempt to look for consensus.  He said that such an approach would strengthen the Convention and good will.  He noted that the recommendation included reference to some of the initiatives in the package provided to the Bureau that morning (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9G).  He commented that the recommendation provided a positive way forward but that he believed that some of the findings of the Bureau are not well founded.  He referred to the recommendation as a reasonable document to be used as a basis for discussion at the third extraordinary session of the Committee and stated that he would like to take the opportunity at that meeting to debate the content of the recommendation in detail.

On point 1 summarizing the principal concerns and reservations of the Bureau, the Minister said that he had difficulty accepting some of the findings.  On point 1(d) he was of the view that the Bureau’s findings referring to the mine’s impact on the living cultural and cultural landscape values could be questioned.  On point 2 (c) of the recommendation, the Minister said that all of the recommendations of the ISP of ICSU would be accepted.  He said the leader of the ISP and the Supervising Scientist had already started a dialogue in order to implement their recommendations.  On point 4 of the recommendation the Minister commented that it was rather prescriptive and did not take into account that in the new information provided to the Bureau a reference group will propose and guide the process of developing the cultural heritage management plan (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9G).

Following this discussion, the Bureau considered and adopted the following:

1.             The Bureau,

(a)      Recognized, with appreciation, that the Australian Government, Australian Supervising Scientist, advisory bodies (IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM) and independent scientific panel (ISP) established by the International Council of Science (ICSU) had provided the reports requested by the twenty-second session of the Committee (Kyoto, 1998),

(b)     Expressed its regret that the voluntary suspension of construction of the mine decline at Jabiluka until the twenty-third session of the Bureau (requested by the twenty-second session of the Committee) had not taken place,

(c)      Continued to have reservations concerning the scientific uncertainties relating to mining and milling at Jabiluka,

(d)     Was concerned about the serious impacts to the living cultural values and cultural landscape values of Kakadu National Park posed by the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka,

(e)      Was concerned about the lack of progress with the preparation of a cultural heritage management plan for Jabiluka.

  1. 2.   The Bureau wished to acknowledge the following developments in relation to the state of conservation of Kakadu National Park:

(a)      The Australian Government has stated that there shall be no parallel commercial scale operation of the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines located in enclaves surrounded by, but not included, in Kakadu National Park (see WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9G).  The Bureau regarded the announcement of the Australian Government as a positive change to addressing the issue concerning the conservation of Kakadu National Park, although the precise meaning of the output and scale of any parallel activities at the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines, in particular in terms of the relative difference from the present level of production at Ranger, should be clarified by the Australian Government.

(b)     There are indications that a new dialogue between the Mirrar Aboriginal people and the Australian Government has begun in relation to issues concerning the Jabiluka uranium mine and mill.  The Bureau considered this to be the first essential step in finding a constructive solution to the issues raised by the UNESCO mission to Kakadu National Park.

(c)      A dialogue between the Australian Supervising Scientist (ASS) and the independent scientific panel (ISP) established by the International Council of Science (ICSU) has begun to show some progress in relation to resolving some of the outstanding questions relating to scientific issues concerning mining and milling at Jabiluka.

3. The Bureau was of the opinion that confidence and trust building through dialogue are crucial for there to be any resolution of issues relating to the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka.  In particular, better dialogue needs to be established between the Australian Government and the traditional owners of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease, the Mirrar Aboriginal people.

4. The Bureau recommended that the Committee request the Australian Government, with the necessary co-operation of the Mirrar and appropriate involvement of other stakeholders, to complete the cultural heritage management plan of Jabiluka and proceed with exhaustive cultural mapping of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease and the Boyweg-Almudj site and its boundaries to ensure protection of these integral elements of the outstanding cultural landscape of Kakadu.  The plan and cultural mapping work should be undertaken by senior archaeologists and anthropologists working with Aboriginal custodians within a stipulated timeframe. The archaeologists and anthropologists should report to a committee with representation from the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA), the Australian Heritage Commission, ICOMOS, ICCROM and the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation.  Their work should be submitted to independent expert scrutiny via objective and impartial review.

5. The Bureau considered that it is the clear responsibility of the Australian Government to regulate the activities of a private company, such as Energy Resources of Australia, Inc, in relation to the proposed mining and milling activities at Jabiluka and notes the commitment of the Federal and Northern Territory Governments to strengthen the regulatory basis for mining.

6. The Bureau recommended that the Committee establish a mechanism for cooperation between the International Council of Science’s (ICSU) Independent Scientific Panel (ISP), the Advisory Bodies and the Australian Government (in particular, the Supervising Scientist) in relation to resolving all of the remaining scientific issues raised by the ISP in its report (WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.9E).

7. The Bureau recommended to the Committee that the Australian Government be asked, in response to the Kakadu Region Social Impact Study (KRSIS), to facilitate a comprehensive package of social and welfare benefits, together with the Northern Territory Government, for the benefit of the Aboriginal communities of Kakadu (including the Mirrar). The Bureau also recommended that the Committee request the Australian Government to provide an update on the implementation of the Kakadu Region Social Impact Study to its twenty-third session in Marrakesh, Morocco in December 1999.

8. The Bureau recommended that the third extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee on 12 July 1999 take full account of the information before it, including new information provided during the Bureau session and the considerations of the Bureau, in particular taking into consideration Paragraph 86 of the Operational Guidelines, in order to fulfill its mandate described in Kyoto (see Paragraph 5, page 18, WHC-98/CONF.203/18).

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.32

X.32 The Committee noted the decision of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/6) and included in Annex VIII on the following property.

Kakadu National Park (Australia)

 

Decision Adopted: 3 EXT.COM X1.2

The Committee,

(a) Recognizes, with appreciation, that the Australian Government, Australian Supervising Scientist, advisory bodies (IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM) and independent scientific panel (ISP) established by the International Council of Science (ICSU) have provided the reports requested by the twenty-second session of the Committee (Kyoto, 1998);

(b) Acknowledges that there are indications that a new dialogue between the Mirrar Aboriginal people and the Australian Government has begun in relation to issues concerning the Jabiluka uranium mine and mill. The Committee considers this to be an essential step in finding a constructive solution to the issues raised by the UNESCO mission to Kakadu National Park and encourages the Australian Government to intensify their efforts in this regard and pursue with vigor the deepening of its dialogue with the Mirrar Aboriginal people;

(c) Notes that the Australian Government has stated (in document WHC-99/CONF.205/INF.3G entitled "Protecting Kakadu National Park" submitted by the Australian Government) that "full scale commercial mining at Jabiluka would only be reached about 2009 following the scaling down of production at the Ranger mine so that two mines would not be in full production simultaneously". The Committee further notes that the Minister for Environment and Heritage has stated that there shall be no parallel commercial scale operation of the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines located in enclaves surrounded by, but not included, in Kakadu National Park. The Committee considers that it is the clear responsibility of the Australian Government to regulate the activities of a private company, such as Energy Resources of Australia, Inc, in relation to the proposed mining and milling activities at Jabiluka to ensure the protection of the World Heritage values of Kakadu National Park;

(d) Notes that the Australian Supervising Scientist (ASS) has assessed the report of the independent scientific panel (ISP) established by the International Council of Science (ICSU) and seeks a dialogue with the ISP to resolve outstanding questions relating to scientific issues concerning mining and milling at Jabiluka.

Decision Adopted: 3 EXT.COM XI.1

The Committee,

(a) Emphasizes the importance of Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11 of the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention. In particular the Committee emphasizes Article 6 (1) which states that:

Whilst fully respecting the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage (...) is situated, and without prejudice to property right provided by national legislation, the States Parties to this Convention recognize that such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to cooperate.

(b) Recalls that the twenty-second session of the World Heritage Committee in Kyoto (1998) expressed "grave concern" over the ascertained and potential dangers to the World Heritage cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park posed by the proposal for uranium mining and milling at Jabiluka;

(c) Notes that the deliberations of the twenty-third session of the Bureau and of the third extraordinary session of the Committee demand the continuous serious consideration of the conditions at Kakadu National Park by the Committee with reference to Section III, in particular Paragraph 86 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage;

(d) Expresses its deep regret that the voluntary suspension of construction of the mine decline at Jabiluka until the twenty-third session of the Committee (requested by the twenty-second session of the Committee) has not taken place;

(e) Is gravely concerned about the serious impacts to the living cultural values of Kakadu National Park posed by the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka. The Committee is of the opinion that confidence and trust building through dialogue are crucial for there to be any resolution of issues relating to the proposal to mine and mill uranium at Jabiluka. In particular, a more substantial and continuous dialogue needs to be established between the Australian Government and the traditional owners of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease, the Mirrar Aboriginal people;

(f) Is concerned about the lack of progress with the preparation of a cultural heritage management plan for Jabiluka;

(g) Continues to have significant reservations concerning the scientific uncertainties relating to mining and milling at Jabiluka.

Decision Adopted: 3 EXT.COM XI.3

With consideration of 1 and 2 above, the Committee will remain vigilant in reviewing and assessing the progress made by the Australian Government. To this end the Committee requests that the Australian Government submit a progress report on the following issues by 15 April 2000 for examination by the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee:

(a) progress made with cultural mapping of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease and the Boyweg-Almudj site and its boundaries and the completion of the cultural heritage management plan with the necessary co-operation of the Mirrar, and appropriate involvement of other stakeholders and ICOMOS and ICCROM;

(b) progress in the implementation, in response to the Kakadu Region Social Impact Study (KRSIS), of a comprehensive package of social and welfare benefits, together with the Northern Territory Government, for the benefit of the Aboriginal communities of Kakadu (including the Mirrar);

(c) more precise details of the output and scale of any parallel activities at the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines as well as on any legal provisions taken in that respect.

Decision Adopted: 3 EXT.COM XI.4

To resolve the remaining scientific issues, such as those raised in the ISP report, the Committee asks ICSU to continue the work of the ISP (with the addition of any additional members) to assess, in co-operation with the  supervising Scientist and IUCN, the Supervising Scientist's response to the ISP report. The report of the ISP's assessment should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by 15 April 2000 for examination by the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2000.