Decision : CONF 201 VIII.A
Inscription: W National Park of Niger (Niger)
W National Park of Niger
Following a request by the Delegate of Benin, the Committee heard a presentation by IUCN on this nomination and a summary report on the "Sub-regional Training Seminar for Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site Managers from Francophone Africa" held at La Tapoa, Niger, from 29 September to 6 October 1996. This report was presented by the Rapporteur of the seminar and focused on the results concerning the three-point mandate specifically given by the twentieth session of the Bureau held in Paris in June 1996. The German Delegate questioned if the report by the rapporteur, member of the Delegation of Niger, was in conformity with Paragraph 62, which stipulates that representatives of a State Party "shall not speak to advocate the inclusion in the List of a property nominated by that State".
A considerable debate followed, including the question of the protection of the transfrontier ensemble of the three National Parks (Benin, Burkina-Faso, Niger), the assessment of associative cultural values for the region and the integrity of the site. Several delegates expressed their difficulties in making any decision being confronted with two contradictory statements, one by IUCN indicating that the W National Park of Niger does not meet any of the natural criteria and one by the experts of the sub-regional training seminar at La Tapoa recommending inscription of the site under natural criteria (ii) and (iv) and the possibility to associate cultural criterion (vi) in the future.
A vote took place on whether to inscribe the Niger National Park on the World Heritage List or not, in conformity with Article 13.8 of the World Heritage Convention. Nineteen delegations were present, twelve voted in favour of the inscription under natural criteria (ii) and (iv) (Benin, Brazil, Cuba, Cyprus, Ecuador, France, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, Philippines, Morocco and Niger), three abstained (China, Japan and Malta) and four (Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States of America) voted against the inscription of the Niger National Park. The statutory required majority of two-thirds was reached and the W National Park of Niger was inscribed on the World Heritage List on the basis of the natural criteria (ii) and (iv) of the nomination.