The World Heritage Committee will hold its 24th annual session from November 27 to December 2 in Cairns, Australia, during which it will inscribe new cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List and review the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The intergovernmental World Heritage Committee consists of 21 States Parties elected for a term of six years by the General Assembly of the 161 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. The Committee members who will meet this year in Cairns are Australia, Belgium, Benin, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Thailand, and Zimbabwe. In Cairns, a new 7-member Bureau will be elected. As many as 50 observer delegations from other States Parties to the Convention are also expected to attend.

The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the Convention and determines the inclusion of sites on the World Heritage List on the recommendation of two advisory bodies: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), for cultural sites and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), for natural sites. The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) for its part is mandated to provide expert advice on monument restoration and organises training sessions for specialists.

The World Heritage Convention presently protects 630 sites of "outstanding universal value," - 480 cultural sites, 128 natural sites and 22 mixed sites - in 118 countries.

This year, the Committee will examine nominations for 71 natural, cultural, and mixed properties from 43 countries. Two countries, Azerbaijan and Malaysia, are submitting nominations for the first time. The decisions of the Committee will be based on the recommendations of its Bureau, which met in June and on the professional advice of ICOMOS and IUCN.

The Committee, and the Bureau which will meet immediately prior to the Committee meeting, will examine reports on the state of conservation on 65 sites on the World Heritage List. A Feasibility Study concerning proposed changes to the schedule of the bi-annual cycle of meetings will be reviewed; and a proposed Budget of the World Heritage Fund for 2001, $US 4.3 million, will be considered.

Cairns, a tropical city of 100,000 people on the northeast coast of Queensland, is close to two World Heritage properties: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

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