Decision : CONF 208 VI
Revision of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention

VI.1 The Secretariat presented a brief progress report on the revision of the Operational Guidelines making reference to working document WHC-01/CONF.208/6 (Revision of the Operational Guidelines) and WHC-01/CONF.208/INF.13 (Application of cultural criterion (vi)). The Committee noted that:

  • The current revisions to the Operational Guidelines are being prepared on the basis of recommendations of an Expert Meeting held in Canterbury (United Kingdom) in April 2000, that were adopted by the Committee at its twenty-fourth session in Cairns (2000).
  • The overall objective of the current process of revision of the Guidelines is to create a userfriendly document that is streamlined and simplified and includes a consolidated section on the protection and conservation of World Heritage properties.
  • The 1st Draft Annotated Revisions of the Operational Guidelines were sent to all States Parties under cover of a Circular Letter (CL/WHC.8/01) in July 2001. Seventeen submissions were received in response. The 1st Draft and comments received are included on the web site (English) and (French).
  • From 8 to 12 October 2001, a Drafting Group met at UNESCO Headquarters to review the 1st Draft and the submissions and to elaborate a 2nd Draft. The Drafting Group included experts from the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee (Australia, Canada, Ecuador, Finland, Morocco and Zimbabwe). Due to other commitments, the expert from Thailand was unable to attend. An expert from the United Kingdom (Dr Christopher Young, English Heritage who had chaired the Canterbury meeting) and representatives of the three Advisory Bodies, the World Heritage Centre and the Culture Sector of UNESCO, attended the meeting. The report of the Drafting Group was made available to the Committee as WHC-01/CONF.208/6 and is also included on the web site.
  • The 2nd Draft Annotated Revisions of the Operational Guidelines was presented to the Committee as Annex IV of WHC-01/CONF.208/6.

  • It is proposed that the revised Operational Guidelines include five main sections: I. Introduction II. Establishment of the World Heritage List III. Protection and conservation of World Heritage Properties IV. International Assistance V. Mobilisation of national and international support in favour of the World Heritage Convention

  • The Drafting Group considered that three issues require policy and legal consideration by the Committee before drafting can be finalised for consideration by the Committee. These are:

    (i) The role of State Party consent in reactive monitoring;

    (ii) The role of State Party consent for inscription of a property on the List of World Heritage in Danger; and

    (iii) The capacity of the World Heritage Committee to decide and the role of the State Party to consent to deletion of properties from the World Heritage List.


The Committee:

1. congratulated the Drafting Group for the substantial progress made in revising the Operational Guidelines;

2. approved the organization of the next meeting of the Drafting Group at UNESCO Headquarters from 18 to 22 March 2002 to review the Annexes and sections of the Operational Guidelines still requiring finalization. The composition of the next Drafting Group will include an expert nominated by each State Party that is a Bureau member in 2002, an expert nominated by each State Party that were Bureau members in 2001 (Australia, Canada, Morocco, Ecuador and Zimbabwe) in order to use their experience to finalise the text, representatives from the Advisory Bodies, other experts as required (to be selected by the Director of the World Heritage Centre in consultation with the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee) and the World Heritage Centre.

3. invited States Parties to provide written comments on the 2nd Draft Annotated revisions of the Operational Guidelines to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2001 for consideration by the Drafting Group in March 2002;

4. recalled that the Director of the Centre had indicated that the UNESCO analysis of legal/policy issues identified in the report of the Drafting Group would be available in time for the March 2002 Operational Guidelines Drafting Group;

5. considered that the Drafting Group should only examine technical questions and should leave discussions on legal and policy issues to the Committee.


VI.2 The Delegate of Belgium noted that there was a need to further discuss the application of the criteria, and in particular cultural heritage criterion (vi). The Committee did not make a decision on this specific point. However, the Chairperson noted that criterion (vi) will be discussed by the Operational Guidelines Drafting Group.

Themes: Operational Guidelines
Year: 2001
Decision Code: CONF 208 VI