Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Capacity Building
Credibility of the World Heritage ...
Inscriptions on the World Heritage ...
International Assistance
List of World Heritage in Danger
Operational Guidelines
Outstanding Universal Value
Periodic Reporting
Reinforced Monitoring
Tentative Lists
Working methods and tools
World Heritage Convention

Decision 22 COM IX.4
Role and Functions of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Role and functions of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre

IX.25 At its twenty-second session, the Bureau requested that the Director-General of UNESCO provide a report outlining "the tasks and functions of the World Heritage Centre as Secretariat to the Convention".

IX.26 At the request of the Committee, the Green Note entitled the 'Preservation and Presentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage' issued by the Director-General of UNESCO on 23 November 1998 was presented to the Committee in Working Document WHC-98/CONF.203/11.Add.

IX.27 During a lengthy discussion, which focused on the future of the World Heritage Centre and the replacement of the Director of the Centre following his retirement, the Committee acknowledged that the Green Note was an internal document and does not constitute the report requested.

IX.28 The Committee highlighted the important contribution of the Centre to the work of UNESCO, the Convention and the Committee. The Delegate of Canada described the Centre as reflecting the genius of the Convention in expressing the continuum between nature and culture.

IX.29 The Representative of the Director-General of UNESCO stated that,

'The Green Note is not the report requested by the Bureau and the Consultative Body from the Director-General. As you know, the World Heritage Committee has, itself, reaffirmed year after year, that the World Heritage Centre, created by the Director-General, should be considered as a unit of the Secretariat.

Consequently, it remains the prerogative of the Director- General to take, in particular by a Green Note, as he does for all units of the Secretariat, the measures he deems necessary for the organization and the functioning of the World Heritage Centre.

For the internal organizational questions of the Secretariat, the Director-General refers to procedures established by the General Conference and the Executive Board of UNESCO, which he has to consult.'

Subsequently, the Committee debated how best to express the vision they have for the future of the Centre. The Delegate of Thailand urged that the "distinct identity of the World Heritage Centre in UNESCO but outside the traditional sectoral structure" must be retained. The Delegate of Italy suggested alternative wording that was subsequently adopted (see paragraph 2 below.) The Committee adopted the following decision:

1. The Committee expressed satisfaction and appreciation of the work of the World Heritage Centre under the direction of Mr von Droste, successfully bringing together work on the protection of both cultural as well as natural World Heritage.

2. The Committee is convinced that the World Heritage Centre should remain a unit specifically dedicated to provide Secretariat services to the World Heritage Convention under the direct authority of the Director- General.

3. The Committee believed that the recommendation of the twenty-second session of the Bureau in June 1998 addressed to the Director-General remains valid. Therefore, the Committee kindly requested the Director-General of UNESCO to prepare a report on the following points:

    • the tasks and functions of the World Heritage Centre as Secretariat to the Convention;
    • the modalities for intervention and co-operation with other specialized sectors of UNESCO in the field of World Heritage;
    • the modalities for co-ordination of the other sectors with the World Heritage Centre;
    • the way in which decisions are adopted and applied on the use of the funds related to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention;
    • the tasks and functions of the World Heritage Centre with respect to the use of funds as Secretariat to the Convention.

The report is requested in due time for the twenty-third session of the Bureau to consider it and provide recommendations, if necessary, to the twenty-third session of the Committee.

The Centre is asked to circulate the report to all members of the Committee as soon as it becomes available.

IX.30 The Representative of the Director-General stated that the Director-General has no intention to change the status of the Centre as a unit of UNESCO not forming part of the sectoral structure and under the direct authority of the Director-General.

IX.31 The Delegates of Thailand and the United States of America asked that the report on this agenda item note that the Representative of the Director-General had affirmed in his statement, that the Centre would remain a distinct unit within UNESCO specifically assigned to work as the Secretariat of the Convention and would not be part of the traditional sectoral structure.

Decision Code
22 COM IX.4
Administration, Reports
Report of the 22nd Session of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision