Report on the Proposed World Heritage Indigenous Peoples Council of Experts (WHIPCOE)
XV.1 The Chairperson sincerely thanked Parks Canada for having hosted the WHIPCOE workshop in Winnipeg, Canada in early November 2001 and welcomed the following indigenous delegates to the session: Mr Tumu Te Heu Heu (Paramount Chief, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand), Mr Eru Manuera (General Manager, Maori Issues, Department of Conservation, New Zealand) and Mrs Josie Weninger (Field Unit Superintendent, Parks Canada). The Chairperson conveyed the Committee's respects to the Paramount Chief and thanked him for having traveled from New Zealand to attend the Committee session.
XV.2 Mrs Josie Weninger presented a report on the proposed WHIPCOE making reference to WHC-01/CONF.208/13. Her presentation summarized progress since the twenty-fifth session of the Bureau in June 2001. She informed the Committee that the proposed purposes of WHIPCOE are, in co-operation with States Parties, the Advisory Bodies and indigenous peoples: (i) to serve as a network, (ii) to allow indigenous voices to be heard in protecting and promoting the world's natural and cultural heritage, (iii) to bring complementary indigenous competencies and expertise, and (iv) to support best practice management and, upon request, make recommendations for improvements.
XV.3 She also made reference to other aspects of the proposal, such as suggested functions, membership, the reporting process and the funding mechanisms of WHIPCOE.
XV.4 The Committee thanked Mrs Weninger for her excellent presentation and commended the WHIPCOE working group for their work. A number of Committee members, observers and the representatives of the Advisory Bodies commented that indigenous peoples have a special role with respect to certain World Heritage properties and that a network could provide a positive forum for an exchange of information and experience concerning their protection. It was proposed that indigenous peoples could meet on their own initiative, be included as part of State Party delegations to the Committee and were encouraged to be involved in UNESCO's work relating to the intangible heritage.
XV.5 The Committee raised a number of legal concerns and issues relating to the funding, legal status, role and relationships (with the States Parties, Advisory Bodies, World Heritage Committee and World Heritage Centre). Some members of the Committee questioned the definition of indigenous peoples and the relevance of such a distinction in different regions of the world. As a result, the Committee did not approve the establishment of WHIPCOE as a consultative body of the Committee or as a network to report to the Committee. The Committee did not provide funding for a second meeting to discuss WHIPCOE as proposed in WHC-01/CONF.208/13. However, the Committee encouraged professional research and exchange of views on the subject.